Fish Catching Travel
Time to throw that Strike King Sexy Dawg Topwater! Man I love spring!
A Tale of Two Days.
You could not find a better couple of days to illustrate how significantly water movement and a little cool front affect the fishing and radically change it in one day. More on that later. I was lucky enough to get to fish with the Austin Boys when they were down at POC the last couple of days. Todd, Pete, John, Ro, Don, Perry, and the rest of the gang arrived on Thursday night for 2 days of having at it. So there would be 2 boats with 9 guys, some serious hardcore waders.
The first day saw both boats off at daylight for the long ride down the island to fish in the area of Cedar Lake, Twin Lakes, not to mention a little Big Pocket and assorted other drains basically wherever we fished. Let me set up day 1 to illustrate the conditions. The day followed a nice 4 day warming with the water temperature rising from 56 to 58 over the couple days leading up to day one. Tide was high around 7 and falling, basically all day. In other words, from this table the water was moving most of the day.
The tide was perfect.
A perfect set of winter conditions set up the perfect storm. The 5 in our bunch all bailed out and I caught a keeper red on my third cast with the KVD Sexy Dawg topwater. Now after our success 2 days ago I thought it would be a killin’, well it was tough in a weird sort of way. We all caught a couple of fish, and one or two whipped on the rats, but there were plenty of reds, and reds, and then more reds.
While we were all trying to get them to bite like you might think they should, the other guys are wading down the bank towards us, from almost 2 miles away. All around us were groups of reds, maybe 5, or maybe 25, going around all of us at times, but that was nothing. We heard someone yell at us and way down the bank here comes a couple of our guys behind us and they are yelling. And there it was, a massive school of reds, I mean giant. Hundreds of them in a huge dark spot pushing water like a tugboat, it was cool. The guys had been following them for over a mile just knocking the snot out of them.
Pete had a couple of good days, probably catching the most fish on this trip.
Got them cornered.
Why the reds around us were not eating as well who knows, but that other school was something to see. I don’t know exactly, but before it was over they had limits or close to it. And while we had some fish, it was not as many as we should have. Just one of those anomalies that happens, but we were catching them. But things finally turned our way.
So the other boat hit the road for other places looking for trout, we stayed working any drain in that 5 mile stretch. Then around 5 in the afternoon we got another good tide movement and the bite was on. I do not know how many I caught out of 1 drain without moving, but it was in the 25 – 30 range with some ok trout, reds, and good eating size black drum. Early in the morning John had been catching them basically dragging it on the bottom and I varied that some. You could actually feel them pecking it so I started reeling it as soon as I felt a peck, and they would jump it.
This is what happens when you find a few, like hundreds, of redfish schooling.
Everyone was catching some and before we called it a day we put a big ass pile of the works on the cleaning table at Froggie’s. Most of us caught a red, flounder, and trout slam, even if they all were not keepers, and a couple of us added a black drum. Slams all around is good fishing any day. The other boat never did have any more real hot luck, like they needed it, and quit a little early. On the other hand by time we got fish cleaned and dinner made it was 9.
Boudan, roasted oysters with parmegean on crusty bread, soup, all a thing of beauty. We traded stories and plans for day 2. For both boats day 1 was a solid day of fishing with all 9 of us catching fish, a couple of us catching a bunch. And John, below, was making his first trip with the boys and after a little advice, you know how fisherman are, full of advice or something else, began to catch a few.
John’s first trip to the salt with the boys, and he started getting the hang of it.
The first day was filled with reds, flounder, blacks, and trout, though the trout were few and caught late when the water was running. Only a few fish were on topwater, and darker plastics ruled the day. Any particular companies plastics seemed to be irrelevant, as long as it was dark.
Everybody got in on the act.
When I got to their place the next morning Ro and his bunch were already outside getting ready to go. My bunch was sleeping. (Wait, haven’t I repeatedly said what a hard core fishing bunch these guys are?) So I rousted them up and by time I got done herding cats it was around 8:30 before we jumped over the side. We were still fishing drains on the Matagorda Island shoreline past the First Chain, while the other boat headed for Big Pocket.
So now to the punch line about different conditions = different days. After 5 warm stable days there was a small cold front that blew through in the middle of the night, which really affected the weather none as far as I could tell. But look at the water movement predictions. (Let me take a second and make an observation: I really try to not read to much into the tide tables, I mean it is good to know high and low times, but that often is not the important thing. So I google water movement predictions and get a much better indication of where to be and when.)
Look at the difference from the day before. The water moved for hours between tides the day before, and then again right before dark. Day 2 the water moved a little in the morning and then flattened out for hours during most of that tide. Luckily we got a little falling late in the afternoon and they finally started biting.
The other bunch went to Big Pocket and fished it hard and by time we spoke with them around noon they were having no luck. We had a few fish, but I don’t think I had one before lunch, in fact 3 of us didn’t. Those herds of redfish were gone. From days worth of big schools to just plain not there, we fished drains, points, long shorelines until afternoon, and we struggled. The water just sat there, and obviously even that little front that blew through the night before affected them. It was a good teaching moment for me. When the water is border line cool in the winter a little front we may not feel will hurt them much more than any other time of the year. And make it a high pressure with bluebird skies and you get the picture.
But finally the water started moving. Heading down a long sand flat in knee deep water, mullet started swimming by, and I realized I was right in the path, so I moved really shallow and here come the fish with the mullet. The bank was bare sand and it was really shallow.
I just liked the spots on this one, we caught tons of rats like this.
Let me put in a plug right now for the Cocoons. The sun was super bright and the mirrors were the ticket. It was easy to spot the fish, and to tell them from the mullet. It so reminded me of bonefishing. I started tossing the light jig head with dark plastics right in their face and finally started getting bit. I caught 6 in short order, a mix of trout, reds, and a small flounder, and should have had twice that. Funny how watching them hit is not all it is cracked up to be, I was clearly premature on the hook set with about as many as I caught. No matter what it was cool. The others got in on the act and you could feel the bite was coming. It was my first real experience with slow fishing and then to find trout in a foot of water on bare sand. But the mullet were there and as it is their primary forage right now they were where their supper was.
Our last wade took us in front of a back lake and we fished the drain, finally put a few more on the stringer. It wasn’t quite as crazy as day 1, but it was a good day of fishing. Lots of rats were caught both days and on day 2 I think our boat kept maybe a dozen trout, a couple of reds and flounder, give or take a fish.
I did my part.
We started winding down and John was the last one in the boat. While we watched him and enjoyed a cold one he caught the last couple of redfish on a bone Spook Jr. throwing into a drain and working it out while we watched and enjoyed a cold one. The other boat struggled in Big Pocket but kept after it and finally in the afternoon like us they located reds in a drain and put the hurt on them, though they did not catch any trout to speak of.
Pete and John. The hits just kept on coming.
Turn out the lights, the party’s over. This is what it is all about.
So it was really an interesting 2 days, and they could not have been more different if they tried. One really interesting observation was plastics clearly ruled the day and out fished live shrimp hands down. It drove Todd nuts as he could actually see groups of reds the first morning swim right by his shrimp. And the second afternoon as soon as the water started falling we started catching flounder. Most were small but if you want a good indicator of what the water is doing you can rely on the flounder. The water falls, they bite. And the catch coincided with the water movement predictions. The tables are such a good indicator allowing you to place yourself in the right place at the right time. All days are different, but sometimes it really is as simple as that. And last this was my first real experience catching them that shallow in a place I would never have guessed, gotta’ love those mullet.
Headed to Austin. Our boat from day 1.
I really enjoy fishing with the Austin Boys. For them it is time off from stressful work doing what they like best, fishing. Some are accomplished bay fishermen who have been doing it for years, and they stay in the water as long as it takes to get the job done. And let me tell you we all waded some miles the last couple of days. Good food and drink, good fishing and good friends, it does not get any better than that. There are a couple of fishing reports and other comments I want to share with you and will get to that later today. Tomorrow it is the dentist and then Tuesday some fishing. So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.
Good Luck and Tight Lines