By Captain Chris Martin
March 23, 2013
For many coastal anglers who don’t live close to the water, there are often a lot of decisions that have to be made by a number of different people whenever a plan is being put together for a fishing trip. You, and three of your closest fishing buddies, have to decide on a trip date that works for everyone. Then, the bosses that each of you works for have to decide to let each of you off from work on the same day. Then, your spouse has to decide it’s alright for you to go, also. But even though you may successfully make it through the approval-cycle gauntlet, and actually make it down to the water’s edge, the April wind is going to be the one thing that decides for you where it is you’re going to fish on any given day right now along the Texas coast.
That’s why it is so very important for you to learn to fish the existing conditions, and not just fish in a spot simply because you’re familiar with it. And now that its springtime means you’ll benefit from learning of many different places you can fish when the wind decides to blow from many different directions. Over the course of any single week in April, it will not be uncommon for us to see winds blowing from SSE, S, NNW, NNE, ESE, SE, SW, or SSW. In situations like this, it can be very helpful to have previously picked-out more than one alternative for each of the wind conditions.
I might also recommend additional scouting activities on the part of anglers as they strive to combat this month’s challenging wind conditions. If possible, spend some extra time out on the water in April looking for shorelines and structure that support favorable fishing conditions in various winds. If you have kept a fishing log over the years, use it – review your log to remind yourself where you fished successfully in a certain wind. If a fishing log isn’t available, you can still manage to stay a step ahead by always listening to the weather forecast and then plotting new destinations and alternate locations via your favorite hotspot fishing map or your GPS unit. With many of the days registering winds between 15mph and 30mph, with occasional gusts being even stronger, it becomes almost imperative for April anglers to have more than one backup plan when it comes to the wind. I try to never leave the dock without having at least three, or four, separate locations in my head as to where I can look for the bite in the “wind-of-the-day.”
Regardless of where you finally position yourself with regards to the day’s wind, keep in mind that this is April, and that there are a number of changes taking place this month. One change is that you should now begin noticing much more bait in the water over that of the previous cooler months. Look for bait that is jumping and that is flipping out of the water while being chased by predators. You’ll experience days when the bait appears to be very widespread, and then days when the bait looks to be more concentrated in one general area. One day you’ll find the bait in muddy water along a windward shoreline, and the next day in clear water along a leeward shoreline.
Another change depicted by the onset of April is the presence of much warmer air and water temperatures, a characteristic that tends to set off the biological clock within speckled trout that tells them this is the start of their annual spawning season. This event takes place primarily over a hard, sandy bottom structure, and generally means we should also begin seeing a marked increase in the formation of slicks along sandy shorelines as the month progresses. These sandy shorelines are the places where the heavy female trout carrying eggs will frequent during the spawn. So, always remember to approach such areas in a very slow and quiet manner, always idling your boat upwind of where you want to start wading (if possible).
There are some other springtime rules I’ve made for myself that I like to share with others just before we exit the boat in search of big spawning trout. One item on the rule list is the importance for us to wade at a slow pace. Another is that we make sure we saturate the immediate area with casts before we make any movement whatsoever – forward or sideways. A third rule is that we should never move at all if we begin to catch fish, because every time we move our feet we create clouds of sand and sediment that can possibly startle the fish, especially in the secluded back lake areas.
As for springtime baits, I’ve experienced wonderful results while working plastic sand eels and plastic tails along a sandy bottom. Fishing these plastics over the sand allows you to reduce the rate of your retrieve over that of when you’re fishing over a mud bottom, and this is great because it is in the area just above the sandy bottom that bigger female trout like to sit while they are spawning. This can be very fun and rewarding, and anyone can learn to work plastic baits along the bottom with just a little practice and some patience.
Top water baits also begin to turn on strong this month. If you haven’t been throwing any of your surface walkers lately, wipe ‘em off and get ‘em in shape. Next time you’re out on the boat, practice tossing one with the wind, across the wind, and into the wind just to get you used to it once again. Now, find some active baitfish along a sandy shoreline and give it your best shot. If you happen into a top water bite where the fish seem to be interested in your lure but simply aren’t inhaling it, try experimenting with different types and speeds of retrieves until you find one that works – like the steady walk-the-dog retrieve, or the “let it sit for a few seconds and just give it a quick twitch, or two” retrieve. Nine out ten times they’ll come right back to it! Good luck to all, and keep grindin’!