Fish Catching Travel
Do not overlook the white Swimming Jig this time of year!
Taking the good with the bad.
This is livin’ – That is all I have to say about that!
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Talk about a day filled with fun and fish ending on a down note, this sure was it. The Austin boys were down for their annual December fishing trip and I was invited. 18 guys and 4 boats, they are hard-core fisherman and good sticks, plus they are more fun than a barrel of monkeys!
I was going to fish with Todd and his bunch, so we headed back to Pringle to fish his fresh dead shrimp on popping cork drifting pattern while some of the guys wanted to wade. They tore the reds and trout up in there a couple of weeks ago and were back for more. So we got in line with the other 10 -15 boats in there and started drifting. Now I do not want you to think I have gone over to the dark side, using live bait and listening to good tunes while we fish, but I stayed in the boat for a few drifts to watch them as I threw plastics.
Our first pass we put 4 keepers in the boat, and it basically continued like that for 3 or 4 drifts. There were areas of off-color water and that seemed to be the sweet spots that were holding fish. Basically the fresh dead shrimp were out fishing my plastic, but that would actually change later. It is such a good thing to do if you have folks who are not that proficient fishermen. We caught lots of trout, rat reds, and flounder during the day. Then the wading boys called needing a break. We motored over and picked them up on the Pringle shoreline, and they had a few nice fish to say the least.
John’s personal best – 25″ of speckled trout.
Wearing his Cocoons, John’s nice string for the first wade.
Pete and John were both throwing plastics, and these came on a 4″ white paddle tail on a small jig head. One thing we noticed today was the better trout and reds were in the knee-deep range on the shoreline near grass and not on any bare sandy areas. The mixed grass and potholes was the ticket.
The boys taking a lunch break.
At this point I jumped out of the boat and did a little wading. In keeping with my plan to catch a big trout I stayed with topwater and on that wade had one big blow up which missed by a mile. Pete and John maybe added another fish or 2, but it was slow during mid day. Todd headed back out to drift and after the flurry in the morning it slowed considerably as the tide stopped moving.
One thing about these boys, as they only make it down a few times during the year there is no wussing out, they fish from daylight until dark. So we made a couple of more drifts and the plastic really started coming on and I put a couple of keepers in the boat and it seemed only small trout wanted the shrimp. So we all met up again and it was decided that we would do a group wade in the area they caught their good reds and trout earlier. One of the other boats with Ken and his boys joined in and they all cornered them.
It was interesting as Todd took his shrimp and was fishing it while the other 6 or 7 guys were throwing plastics, and they were eating the plastics right next to him. So he switched and everyone ended up putting a few on the stringer, including another personal best for the group. The hot bait was a straight tail jerk bait in a grey/clear flake with a Chartreuse tail. As the sun set the bite was on. They had a great time as they were fishing close to each other, talking and laughing like we all do when the good fish are biting.
Look closely, the long one is Pete’s personal best, a 26″ trout.
Todd with a couple of 20″ trout that did not raise an eyebrow today.
Pete fills out his redfish limit.
They all lined up on the shoreline on the edge of a pocket and had a great time talking and catching fish. I on the other hand headed the other way and kept with the topwater, and other than one half-hearted swirl did not get a bite. I noticed an area with baitfish so I waded over and parked on the edge and finally boated a nice 19″ on plastics. On some days that would be a good one, today it was just another nice trout. I do not have a clue how many we caught, or kept, it was not my job to count, but it was a solid day of fishing. Our boat was just a fish or two from our 5 man limit of reds and trout. Not sure how the other 3 boats ended up but everybody had fish.
Suffice to say this was a nice string of fish, carrying the cooler to the cleaning table was not a one man job!
It was just getting dark as we exited the cut at Pringle and headed back to Froggie’s to clean fish and put the boat on the trailer. As we got close there seemed to be some lighted boats in the ICW, and I told Todd to slow down, until then I had forgotten it was the Christmas boat parade. So was we idle to the cleaning table the party starts.
Todd’s boat has the cool underwater green lights all around with blue LED’s inside so we fit right in.
Talk about surreal! Here we are, wet, smelly, with a pile of fish. The dock and fingers of the ramp are crowded with people and we are right in the middle of it butchering fish. Beads, candy, and Frisbees flying, fireworks going off, decorated boats streaming by, it does not get any weirder than that. So we got that job done and it was back to their rental, where it kind of went downhill from there.
As my lovely wife always says, “It only hurts for a second.” Or, Pride goeth before the fall.
When we got back a nice gentleman with the group I had not met before was looking for me. It was pretty dark and he managed to back his truck and boat right into the front of my truck. Now let me get this out of the way, my new 4Runner, my 3rd one, is my favorite of all the vehicles I have ever owned. I love that truck. I mean really. I guess I was a little to proud of it. It was dark as we walked to the front and it was ugly, and it turned out even uglier in the daylight. It makes me cringe just looking at it. The gentleman who hit me felt at least as bad as I did, and already had all the info ready for me.
It is driveable as long as you don’t need those pesky turn signals, like the ditch well lighted and not the road, and are not worried if the hood pops open while you are driving down the highway. And it really is no problem when you are 62 y/o crawling over the passanger seat, console, and shifters to get in the driver’s seat because the driver door will not open. And opening the hood to see what other damage has been done might be risky, bent and sprung, it may not close again. And to finish off what I can see the whole front nose piece is cracked. Dang it! I promise to not whine about it again, probably.
On a day where 2 of the guys caught their personal best trout, and a 19″ was no big deal, we began discussing the fishing lately and several theories sprung up on why we are catching bigger trout, and more of them. The following is what we came up, along with other guys I have spoken with, as some of the reasons.
One: It is the first year of the 5 fish limit and it is working quicker than we could have imagined. Just looking out at the 20 or so boats we saw in Pringle yesterday you only had to do the math. 3 people to a boat, 15 less trout in the box times 20 boats is 300 hundred trout that one day, in that one place, on a day at POC that can only be described as not that busy. That does not count all the other boats in the POC area that day and during the year, not to mention what the guide boats will take in a year. That is a heck of a lot of fish.
Two: The spring floods. The first real benefit was the cleansing of the bay. There seems to be so many more blue crabs, mullet, and bait. Many of the bigger trout the last couple of months have been in amazing shape, fat and sassy. Nothing like a smorgasbord everyday to keep the weight on. And if you remember it was tough the first couple of months this summer as we dealt with higher than normal fresh water in the system, which also left it off-color for months. The fishing was tough, and then it finally broke and the bite has been on the last couple of months.
Three: We are just awesome fishermen and getting more “awesomer” by the minute. Seriously, we have all experienced a significant increase in the number of good trout the last couple of months. I know I personally have caught more 20″+ trout the last couple of months than I caught the 6 years since moving here, not to mention a 29″ earlier this year. I wish it was us because we are such amazing sticks, but it probably has a little more to do with theories One and Two.
These reasons seem to be the ones that most guys I have talked to think have affected our fishing lately. Who knows if they are even anywhere near right, they are only uneducated guesses based on what is flopping in the net. So if you have a theory, or something to say on this subject, please chime in. And as usual, if you have anything else to say let us know, we love your comments and reports.
Since I moved to Arkansas in the mid 70’s I have participated in lots of fishing trips with assorted large groups. These guys are as good a bunch of guys as you could hope to hang out with, not to mention they are hardcore fishermen. They eat, fish, and play hard on their occasional trips here, and I am always glad when I am invited. And it really helps when the fishing is good.
What a week here at fishcatchingtravel.com. A good day on the Lavaca, a slow day on Coleto, a whack and stack at POC, Cocoons Eyewear coming on board, and my truck gets the new smacked off it. Who knows what this week will bring, but I know one thing, not having a truck is a real issue. I know I am spoiled having 2 boats always ready to go, but there are not 2 trucks, and without one I may have to see a psychiatrist by time that gets resolved. So please keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.
Good Luck and Tight Lines