Best of Both Worlds

Best of Both Worlds

This morning I stepped outside to take care of a few small chores around the house before coming back inside to write this article. No sooner was I back inside when I realized I was drenched with sweat and needed a shower. The chores hadn’t been all that physically demanding, which served as a quick reminder that summer has arrived!

Even though summer’s heat is not my favorite thing in the world, I still find joy during this time. One of the aspects that I heartily enjoy is the amount of daylight that we have. Even if you skip the middle of the day to dodge the heat for a couple of hours you still have plenty of time before and after to accomplish a task. It just so happens that if your task is to go fishing that day, well…you’re in luck!

Accompanied with the long days comes the perfect weather days. These days usually arrive with a nice north breeze that will bring cooler temperatures, blue bird skies, and a calm surf. Typically you can get three ideal weather days during one of these stretches, however, when Mother Nature is kind it can last up to a week. Long about the beginning of May I begin to study long-range forecasts weekly with hopes to see a high pressure ridge moving south. Now, with July almost here, I do it daily. When we are blessed with these windows the fishing opportunities are almost endless.

One of my favorite things is the opportunity to have multiple options during a full day of fishing. On one hand, the marsh fishing should be on fire by now. There should be plenty of grass in the back ponds and that is almost a guarantee of clear water. Top all of this off with a full day of sunlight and light winds, and you have the perfect recipe for sight fishing. On the other hand, the jetties are now calm enough that you can make it out safely in a small skiff.

As daylight approaches, the trout fishing should be as good as it gets along the rocks. Once that bite begins to taper off, one can begin to target redfish and hopefully hang into a few bulls. After the sun is well up you can head out towards the beachfront and begin to look for tripletail floating amidst the sargassum. If you’re really lucky you might even stumble upon a group of bull reds or jacks cruising along the beach. With all these options available it can be tough sometimes to zero in on what you want to accomplish first. So, it begs the question; Why not just do it all?

A full day of fishing may not be for everybody and it definitely requires a little more planning than normal. One must pack extra refreshments and this is usually the only time I will bring food on the boat; a pack of crackers or bag of chips hardly qualifies for an all-day adventure. I have also been bringing packs of Liquid I.V. or other hydration packs to help replenish any lost electrolytes. You also need to consider boat refueling options. If there will not be a full-service boat ramp along your intended route, carrying an extra five gallons aboard is a must.

Arriving to the jetties, I will first look for clues as to what the tide is doing. If it’s incoming it’ll be flowing in from the gulf, whereas an outgoing tide will be running toward the gulf. Whichever way it is flowing you want to be on the down-current side of things. It is best to find areas of rocks that are low-lying, where water is flowing freely across. I like to start off by throwing a Spook Jr. If that doesn’t draw any reaction I will switch to a Down South or Chickenboy plastic on an 1/8 oz jighead. The important thing is to move slowly along the rocks. But, the first positive reaction from the fish is your signal to stop right there and begin casting more thoroughly among the rocks.

With the sun rising and the trout bite fading, I will switch tactics and begin targeting redfish. My favorite setup for jetty redfish is a 1/2-ounce Texas rig, the same as you use for bass fishing. This consists of a 1/2-ounce bullet weight threaded onto my braided line, followed by a 5/0 offset widegap worm hook. I complete the rig with a white 4” Gulp shrimp. I prefer the offset hook so I can rig it in weedless fashion to avoid hanging up on the rocks. I pitch it into every little crevice and drain along the rocks, dragging it slowly down the slope, bumping each rock as it falls. The more rocks I cover in this fashion the greater the number of fish that are likely to see my lure. Most importantly, you must be able to feel the lure bumping the rocks. This is where the redfish like to be!

By now it is late morning and the sun should be high enough in the sky to do some sight fishing. I will usually head back to the ramp around 10:00 or so, load the boat and head for another boat launch that will put me closer to the marsh. This is an opportunity to refuel if you’re not carrying extra gasoline onboard and grab anything else I might need from the store.

Once I get to the marsh I do a quick re-rig, removing the bullet weight, and re-tying the same worm hook. One of my favorite lures for marsh sight fishing is the Stanley Ribbit Frog, and again I rig it weedless. On my second rod I will go with a trusty 1/4-ounce weedless Johnson gold spoon. This, tossed under a bright sky, will make an irresistible treat for a hungry redfish. I will spend the next few hours looking for the glow of redfish in the shallows of the marsh.

Long about the time the sun begins sinking a little low in the sky is usually my cue that I have spent enough time on the water. A full day of fishing will take it out of an angler, especially during the summer months. However, as diehard anglers, we don’t get many opportunities during the year to take advantage of every aspect of our fishery in a single day. When Mother Nature aligns with our interests you have to take advantage of it.

Be safe on the water this summer. And when Mother Nature and the weatherman get their acts aligned, get out there and enjoy the best of both worlds!

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