Fish Catching Travel
The Shoedog, Chris, and I just got home from a 2 day fishing trip with Capt. Kevin Cochran. We fished the Upper Laguna Madre, out of Bird Island on Pine Island National Seashore. We fished a full day on Wednesday and a half day on Thursday, and a really good time was had by all. As usual when we all travel together on these fishing trips it is an adventure.
When Chris first mentioned fishing with Kevin I was all for it so we decided to split a 2 day trip. Of course Shoedog was all in, so I rented a small condo on the island and we meet up with Kevin at 5 a.m. Wednesday. Seriously? 5 in the morning, in February? As I have long said, guess it is my guiding background, if you are going to hire a guide, especially to learn, then shut-up and fish. Do what you are told, it is the only way you can give the guide a failing grade for the day if things go poorly. Just kidding. On a serious note, if you think you know more than he does why hire him?
Our whole purpose was to learn more about winter trout fishing, and a little more about Corky fishing, Who knows, we might even get lucky and catch a big one. So it was across the Upper Laguna in the dark. After a short ride we headed in to the shoreline stopping in about 3 foot of water and hopped over the side. The bottom was a nice mix of rock, sand, and grass. Kevin initially recommended tossing a topwater, and when that was slow, it wasn’t long before he said switch to the Corky. Shortly after that Chris smacked one, and after a good fight netted a nice red.
That redfish ate that Corky.
While it was a trip to learn some about catching big trout we are just happy as all get out with these guys.
Kevin then boated a red close to that size, and also caught a couple of trout. Before daylight I caught 3 on Corky, and I believe Shoedog caught a couple on Skitterwalk topwater. None of those were what we were looking for. I believe Kevin was throwing a Fat Boy Corky when he got a good bite.
Now what makes fishing with Kevin so interesting is the size above is just getting there as far as he is concerned. And he derisively calls redfish carp. He is so into it that it is probably a waste of time to catch a red when he could be trying to catch another big trout. And as a side note, he has caught hundreds, that would be hundreds and hundreds 4-6, and hundreds over 7. He is a trout catching machine.
As it broke daylight it was clear, warm, and for a long time, dead calm. Are you kidding me? Dead calm on the Laguna while here I am wanting to fish bad winter weather. It is 75 degrees and dead calm. Not the winter trip I had envisioned. The whole purpose was to learn more about fishing winter time trout, but oh well, if you have taken many fishing trips out of town you know the weather not cooperating happens on fishing trips. Luckily the next day it would straighten up.
For the rest of the first day we spot hopped, fishing shallow to 3+ feet deep. It was the back side of a spoil island, then the area where the grass ended further off the bank, and a couple of different bars and drains. Though we picked one up here and there, the big bite was first thing. So we found out real quick what the 5 a.m. start was all about.
I did manage to get in the act a little.
Basically as soon as the sun came out for real, it was plastics. In fact as we were wading right after the sun peaked over the horizon I asked Kevin when he went to plastics. His response, right now. One thing that Kevin re-inforced in me was neutral or natural colors in the super clear water, more colorful for off-colored water.
So my only complaint was the weather, it was way to nice. Hard to schedule clouds, light breeze, and drizzle all day, except when you are headed to the beach. So after 8 1/2 hours we called it day one.
When we got back to the ramp Kevin was concerned about the weather forecast. He wasn’t trying to crawdad on us, as he said, because he did not want to go, he actually was very concerned that we might not do well with the big North wind that was forecast. Of course we still wanted to go, bad forecast or not. So we agreed to call him later after the latest forecast, which we did that night, and it was on for at least a half day on day 2.
For day one we caught over 20, but just did not get the big fish. All of us missed a few, so who knows, one of us may have had the big bite and just didn’t hook up. But with the weather conditions it did not surprise me. We learned a lot, which I will get to after the report, and had a good time. In fact, we were laughing after Kevin left the ramp as we put our stuff in the truck because if we had brought the boat we would have headed right back out.
Again it was 5 in the morning and down the Laguna in the dark. While the spotlight he was using to run was nice to help you see, probably it’s most important feature was keeping you from being killed by the huge flocks of Redheads that were scared up as we crossed. A nice fat Redhead in the face at 35 mph probably leaves a mark.
To make a long story short, and as you know I am not good at that, the weather went like this. Forecast one for Thursday – front blowing thru late at night hard with the wind jumping up to possibly 25. That is the one that Kevin was concerned about. Forecast two – wind increasing steadily until reaching 25 as the day went on. So of course forecast number two was the one that convinced him to fish, and forecast number one was the reality. Here is a couple of pictures of the arrival.
Here it comes, and the wind with it.
Cool looking as it came, this is the weather I was hoping for.
It did not take long to blow in.
When we hopped out of the boat the wind was around 10 – 15 out of the North. We spread out from the bank to out into 3 plus feet. Until daylight Kevin had 8 bites, Chris several, and me and the Shoedog not a one. And while those 2 caught some fish, they just were not what we were looking for. Then here it comes and the wind started to blow. Kevin switched to topwater and had a few big blow ups that did not hook up. I had one actually rip the rod out of my hands, no exaggeration, right out of my grip. Luckily I caught it before it went in. I guess when I lifted up on the plastic and had the rod pointed right at the bait the fish was going the other way. That has not happened to me in almost 25 years, and it was the fancy 3 ounce rod Chris wrapped for me, so I got real lucky.
Then I caught 2 on consecutive casts, and missed another. Meanwhile Shoedog, who had not had a bite on anything, put his old faithful Skitterwalk on and headed to shallow water by the bank. Now keep in mind folks it is blowing hard with a pretty good chop when he saw one miss it, and when the topwater slid in the trough one exploded on it.
Out of the water she comes. 26″ of fat girl. That is what I am talking about.
This is what we came for. 5 3/4 lbs.
The Shoedog is a Skitterwalk fishing fool, and it is one of his favorite baits. This fish made the day, and when we get to what I learned from this trip you will know why. We moved one more time as the wind really started to blow and the water was getting more off colored by the minute. Shoedog caught one more on top, and we called it a day.
Guessing, it was around 12 – 14 for the morning. We missed a few that might have cut the big fish mustard, but who knows. The Shoedog catching a good one at the last minute was fitting as it was the biggest trout he has boated yet. We learned a lot and enjoyed the company. And as far as I am concerned one of us catching a 5, and then a 6, on consecutive days, is just fine by me. In my case, while I did not land a big trout, I know how that goes and really appreciate what I learned. So what did we learn?
1. Like all big fish, you have to fish where they are. The chance to catch this size and bigger go up exponentially on the Laguna. 2. Kevin Cochran is a trout nutcase. 3. If you want a guide to be your momma, or be nice just cause, he is not your man. 4. If you want to add to your knowledge, and have a legitimate shot at a real trout, he is the bomb. And anything we learned can be applied to anywhere you fish for winter trout. 5. Just because it is winter and the wind is blowing, unless the water temp is significantly below 60 degrees, do not put the topwaters away. I can honestly say it would have never occurred to me to throw it as rough as it was this morning. 6. As you use a Corky in the winter think horizontal. That is the correct presentation to keep it out of the grass or off the bottom in really shallow areas. 7. You can fish the Corky faster and more erratic than I ever thought. 8. A good rule of thumb is turning the reel handle in a diamond pattern, 1-2-3, using it to only take up the slack. 9. The Fat Boy Corky was clearly better than the standard Corky or the soft Mirr-O-Dine. 10. If you want to catch big trout you need to be there before daylight, miss it by a half hour and you may miss it all. 11. Fish thoroughly, but not really slowly. And when the front comes keep moving and tossing, you have just a little time to get it done, they are eating. 12. And if you catch a big one stay put, there can easily be more that size there. 13. This is not a meat haul, and you actually save money be not keeping fish. What could be better than that.
As far as Kevin goes, he is a really great fisherman who can only be described as an expert at what he does. Not only is he is a well know columnist, having written multiple books and articles on trout fishing and conservation, he is an avid birder. If you choose to fish with him, and I could not recommend it more highly, listen closely. There is information to be gleaned from him, that is what you are paying for. A former teacher, teaching you how to improve your trout fishing is his primary motivation. And if, or when, you catch a big one while fishing with him it is a bonus. How much you absorb, and how you use it, is up to you. It is rare you have a chance to experience spending the day with a true expert in any field, and a day with Kevin is exactly that.
That about covers it, at least as well as I can after getting up at 3:30 this morning. I am sure there will be some other things come to mind later, especially about things I learned and I will share them with you as they come to me. One thing that gives me comfort, we do not have that far to go, we are on the right track. Fishing is an ongoing learning process and I really do like what I learned the last couple of days. I know one thing, the next cloudy, warm, and drizzling or foggy day following a serious cold front you will find me wading the bay. There is more to tell you but that will do for now. So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.
Thanks for this pic Chris. Wading the Laguna Madre as the front rolls in, seriously, could it be any more awesome? Sweet shot and what a great day to be alive!
Good Luck and Tight Lines
Learn More about Capt. Kevin: https://www.facebook.com/TroutTrackerGuideService