Capt. Chris Martin
August 2, 2020
It’s half-past six in the morning, and you and your buddies are already behind schedule. You’re just now idling-up to your first wading spot for the day, but you know that you should’ve already been in the water for some time now. After thinking about it for a moment, you’re kind of glad you arrived as late as you did, because now you have a chance to actually see the area before spending a whole lot of what could possibly become wasted time if there’s no reason to here. For several days now you’ve been catching moderate numbers of trout in this very location, but this morning things seem to be a little bit different. The first noticeable difference is that it was already light when you arrived this morning, and you could see the area. On previous days it had always been dark when you started your first wade session, as you had basically been running on intuition from the days before. Another difference today was the clarity of the water. A rainstorm rolled through last night, and now you can’t make out the bottom of the sand flat that you’re idling across until the depth on your GPS indicates less than two feet. Up until this morning, this place had held some pretty green water, but today the water appeared to have been muddied by the rain. To add even more change to the situation, today there was absolutely no wind blowing across the water. The entire bay had been glass-smooth on your ride across the bay this morning.
Additionally, before leaving home this morning, you overheard a voice on the television say that today would be 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 your mind as being a major difference in this one particular area is the fact that you didn’t see, or hear, any bait activity upon your 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. You didn’t even get out of the boat. Instead, you turned around and headed for another one of your favorite areas in order to investigate its “signs”, an area that should’ve been protected from last night’s storm and that historically has produced for you under similar circumstances for some of summertime’s best redfish.
After traveling twenty minutes to your new destination, you notice that a south wind is now making its way across the water’s surface at around 5-mph. You’re glad to see this because you always prefer some wind, instead of no wind whatsoever. As you begin approaching this place you want to try to fish, you can already tell that the water is 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. You pull your boat to within about 100-yards of where you want to position your wading efforts, and then you set the anchor. You and the other members of your party exit the boat into green water that’s nearly waist-deep over a soft, shell bottom. A couple of your buddies begin tossing soft-plastics, but the rest of your group is throwing small, quiet, top water baits. You’re still several yards from where you wanted your guys to line-up in a straight line, but a couple of the soft-plastics crew has already scored two nice trout out over the shell and mud area. You’ve seen a couple of small bursts of energy around your surface walker, but nothing has engulfed it yet.
As you wade within casting distance of your target area, you tell everyone to get into position and to work their baits over the dark-colored water out in front of you. This isn’t stained, or off-colored, water, but is where the mud and shell on the bottom make an immediate transition to that of soft sand and lots, and lots, of grass. You can see pods of surface mullet floating atop the huge grass flat, and you’re witnessing disruptions amongst the pods as the mullet obviously flee for their lives as they are chased by something from below. It’s only a matter of minutes before you all began catching some of the most beautiful and broad-shouldered red fish that you’ve seen all summer long. You all catch reds until your arms and legs began hurting. As the day ends, you each keep one fish for a home cooked meal that night, but release all the rest to allow them to fight another day. It truly became a memorable day for all of you, but only because you decided early in the day that you were going to fish the “signs”, and not the spot – a bonus that just might become downright immeasurable at times!
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Capt. Chris Martin
July 27, 2020
It’s pre-dawn, and you are about to crawl over the side of your boat and into the dark morning water. In looking to the horizon, it’s easy for you to determine which direction is east simply because it’s the part of the sky that has beautiful streaks of early sunlight shooting skyward. The water along the shoreline that you have chosen is calm, and the air is already quite warm on this August morning. You’ve anchored your boat close to the grass that outlines the shore, and you can feel a mild northeasterly wind against your face as it blows across the spoil bank that separates you from the open bay on the other side. And aside from the occasional jumping mullet or small baitfish that’s chased to the surface by hungry predators, the surface of the water appears to be almost completely undisturbed by wind or waves.
The first thing you notice as the morning becomes light enough for you to see more clearly is the fact that the water where you’ve chosen to wade this morning is probably some of the cleanest, trout-green water that you remember seeing all summer long. This leads you to believe that presenting a small top water bait perpendicular to the slight wind and right up against the grass on the shoreline might just be the ticket to early morning success. Your lure travels undisturbed on its first pass along the bank, so you continue to fan your casts in both directions up and down the shore.
You’re hurrying your actions now because there has not yet been any attention paid to your lure. The fishing rod is cocked behind your right shoulder as you toss the bait towards its intended target, but your thumb falls off of the spool just the slightest bit of a moment too soon. Unintentionally, your lure hits the surface out over water that’s a couple feet deeper than where you have previously been casting. There’s a trough on the bottom of the flats area here that runs parallel to the shoreline about thirty or forty yards out from the bank. Although the cast was nice and long, it just wasn’t in the direction you had intended it to be. Regardless, you once again commence with your standard retrieve, only breaking long enough to wipe away the sweat that has rolled down your forehead and into your eyes.
After wiping your face, you notice out of the corner of your eye that your lure was met with a slight shatter as it had sat motionless during the brief pause in action. You now determine that you’ve inadvertently stumbled upon both the preferred water depth and the best retrieval pattern, so you make the same cast all over again in an attempt to draw another strike. By this time you have repositioned yourself directly in the middle of the through itself, where the water depth has now gone from that of about knee-deep to that of being just over waist-deep. This will once again allow you to cast somewhat perpendicular to the wind, and will let you work your bait directly down the midsection of the deeper trough.
You rear back and let the lure sail. It’s straight down the middle! You allow the bait to sit idle before beginning to reel it in, and this time you’re only going to walk it four or five times and then let it sit idle for four or five seconds, instead of steadily walking it uninterruptedly all the way back to you. Suddenly, and after only a few walk-stop exercises, the bait is hit from beneath with what looks to be enough force to send it to the moon. The lure resettles upon the water’s surface, and you give it a couple faint twitches with the end of your rod tip. All of a sudden, BANG! You lose sight of your plug as the surface erupts with the explosion you dreamed of last night, and that you’ve waited for all morning. Suddenly, you are at odds with what seems to be the most beautiful, silver-coated, black-dotted speckled trout that you have ever seen. Life is, once again, good all over.
August is not only known as a prime time for trout, but for red fish “tales”, as well. Success will be noted this month and next as slight winds of a northerly influence begin to flatten area bay waters and those along the Gulf beachfront. August anglers will often produce some fast red fish action by fishing grass beds during the low-light conditions associated with the first two hours of the day.
Have fun, and keep grindin’!
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