July 24, 2012
“Fishing the Signs”
Guide Lines, by Capt. Chris Martin
July 25, 2012
It was half-past six in the morning, and we were already behind schedule. We were just idling-up to our first choice of a wading spot for the day, but we should’ve already been in the water for some time now. I’m kind of glad we arrived as late as we did, as it gave me a chance to actually see the area before spending a whole lot of time here if there appeared to be no reason for us doing so. I had been catching moderate numbers of trout in this very location for going on a week now, but this morning things seemed different. The first noticeable difference was that it was already light when I arrived this morning, and like I said, I could visibly see the area. On previous days it had always been dark when I entered the water over the side of the boat, and I had basically been running on intuition from the days before. Another difference today was the clarity of the water. We had a rain storm roll through last night, and now I couldn’t make out the bottom of the sand flat that I was idling across until the depth on my GPS indicated less than 1.5 feet. Up until this morning this place had held some pretty green water, but today it had obviously been muddied by the rain. To add even more change to the pattern of the past week, today there was absolutely no wind blowing across the water. The entire bay had been glass-smooth on our ride across the bay this morning. Additionally, before leaving home this morning, I overheard the weather person on the television say that we would only be expecting a one-tide day, meaning there would be less water movement today over that of the past week. But the one thing that probably stuck out the most in my mind as being a major difference in this one particular area is the fact that we didn’t see, or hear, any bait activity upon our approach this morning – no jumping mullet, no pods quickly relocating themselves as birds flew over, no sounds of the common “slurp” that trout make as they retrieve prey from the surface. Today this location seemed completely void of any productive signs of fish activity, whatsoever. We didn’t even get out of the boat. Instead, we turned around and headed for another favorite area of mine in order to investigate its “signs”, an area that should’ve been protected from last night’s storm and that historically has produced for me under similar circumstances for some of summertime’s best red fish action in the coastal bend arena.
We had been traveling about twenty minutes back across the bay to our new destination when we noticed a south wind was now making its way across the water’s surface at around 5-mph. I was glad to see this because I always prefer some wind over absolutely no wind (some wind is often a good thing from a fishing perspective). As we got close to where I wanted to fish, I could already tell that the water was in good shape. This body of water happens to be enclosed on both the north and the south sides by small barrier-type pieces of land, thereby protecting it from any water or wind turbulence from last night’s storm. I pulled the boat to within about 100-yards of where I wanted to position today’s wading party, and then I set the anchor. We exited the boat into waist-deep, green water over a soft-shell bottom. Half of the party was throwing soft-plastics, but the rest of us were tossing small, quiet, top water baits. We were still several yards from where I wanted these guys to line-up in a straight line, but a couple of the soft-plastics crew had already scored two nice trout out over the shell and mud area. I had seen a couple of small bursts of energy around my top water, but no takers as of yet. As we waded to within casting distance of our target area, I instructed everyone to line-up shoulder-to-shoulder to form a straight line. As everyone got into place, I told them to work their baits over the dark-colored water out in front of us. This wasn’t stained, or off-colored, water. This was where the mud and shell on the bottom made an immediate transition to that of soft sand and lots, and lots, of grass. We could see pods of surface mullet floating atop the huge grass flat, and we’d often witness instantaneous disruptions amongst the pods as the mullet obviously fled for their lives as they were chased by something from below. It was but a matter of minutes, and a few minor readjustments for a couple of us, that we all began catching some of the most beautiful and broad-shouldered red fish that I have seen all summer long. We caught reds until our arms and legs began hurting. As it turned-out, we each kept one fish for a home cooked meal back at the Lodge that night, but released all the rest for another day. It truly became a memorable day for all of us, but only because we chose early-on to fish the “signs”, and not the spot.
It’s really, really hot out on the water right now, so please keep in mind the importance of you hydrating early, and often. And the same holds true for sunscreen. Always remember to apply your protection before you even get on the boat, and then re-apply throughout the course of the day. We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer vacation, and we remind your to practice CPR, “Catch, Photo, and Release”, whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O’Connor/Seadrift region…