All Day, Every Day

All Day, Every Day
Sunrise is best spent with good friends at the water’s edge.

Being a fishing guide may not be all that it's cracked up to be. Many folks have the notion that it is a dream job– few responsibilities, flexible hours, no boss to answer to – I think not. Others that I look up to and respect in my line of work are the guides who are in it for their customers. No matter if they have been on the job two months or two decades, it is usually obvious why they chose this profession. A guide friend of mine, Thomas Williams, described a young man named Zack as being salty. When I die I want to be remembered as brined.

Quite often, either dockside or while filling the boat with gas, I am often asked about the catching. My best reply is, "All day, every day." It's not that I'm on the water every single day fishing, but for sure I'm engaged in some type of preparation work; repairing, rigging or planning to make the next fishing trip a success.

Guiding for me is a 365-day-a-year job; no questions asked. That is the difference between full time and part time. I catch fish 24/7, period. Whether I'm studying the tides to get my customers the best shot at fish, readying the boat for the next day, or when I suddenly wake from a deep sleep to double check or scrawl myself a note about something that might be easily forgotten.


With most of the migratory species having vacated my home fishing area, we are now back to angling for trout, redfish, flounder, black drum and sheepshead.

In November, we feel the effects of the hard-blowing frontal passages that are more frequent, aiding in the staging of bait aggregations important to the gamefish we seek. Two to three days prior to the big blow, the predominant southerly winds increase. Increasing south wind pushes the baitfish schools north and eastward until a change of wind direction forcefully drives them back southward.

This is bait migration in its simplest form. As I always say; "Find the current–find the bait–find the fish." The shifting wind-generated currents naturally affect not only the forage, but also the gamefish. The effects of the movements can be seen and realized in small tidal areas of only a few acres all the way up to large-scale bay systems. Savvy anglers use these bait migrations to help locate their desired gamefish species.

For example; in what we of the middle-coast refer to as back lakes, which are marsh areas within the barrier islands separating bays from the Gulf, these patterns are simplified. Windward shorelines and secondary drop-offs tend to hold the majority of the fish–no matter which direction the wind blows. In these back lakes, during a string of calm bluebird days, the fish may not be on shorelines. Many times they will be found in the center–what I call the 50-yard line. Without the effects of wind-generated water currents, the fish scatter and remain in a sort of temporary limbo until the next norther approaches.

Some of the fishiest areas on the middle-coast are oyster reefs, especially where they form islands that separate our bay systems. In and around openings between reefs we find swifter currents as water is forced through bottlenecks. Sometimes this is found on the deeper sides along the western and southern edges. I believe these sides receive the strongest water currents created by wind, year-round. The east and north sides tend to be shallower because of sediment and broken shell settling over millions of years.

When I fish these areas I am mostly looking for moving water. On the deeper ends I'm targeting trout, sheepshead and drum. On the shallower sides I'm expecting redfish and flounder. Deeper ends have fish waiting in ambush for their forage to be delivered. While on the opposite side, the forage is stacked by the forces of wind and current, which is perfect for shallow-feeding hunters such as redfish, large solitary trout and flounder.

Many reef systems have what is referred to as the crown or shallowest area, where water and waves freely flow. Baitfish are commonly overpowered by forces of wind and current, which violently pushes them over the shallowest parts of the shell. This area has accounted for a large percentage of my big trout. With the depth and sharp shell considered, a lightly-weighted suspending lure, think floating Corky or similar, is a good choice. A clear plastic torpedo float with a short leader connected to a live bait or soft-plastic lure is also very effective.


Drifting is one of my favorite methods for finding and catching fish. Day in and day out, a float fished with a live shrimp or lure under it is an exceptionally effective rig. But, having said that, all floats are not created equal. Each style, shape or size can be tailored to a certain presentation or condition.

Here are a few floats I use and why.

- Concave popping floats: These go back a long way in angling history. First carved out of wood or cork, most had a concave end to make a splash and fish-feeding noise. I use this style mostly in rough or muddy water conditions. Plastic rattle corks in the 4- to 4-1/2 inch range enable long distance casting. They are easy to "pop" and the sounds produced from water displacement and the internal rattles draw fish from afar. One of the major drawbacks of this design is the fishing line runs through the center and pinches on each end of the float for positioning. This not only weakens the main fishing line, they also often come loose due to not having been secured properly. I like to attach them separately from the main line.

- Styrofoam pencil float (Mansfield Mauler type): This style float fishes effectively in shallow, calm conditions where less noise-attraction is needed. Use lightly weighted lures; LiveTarget Shrimp, D.O.A. Shrimp or whatever soft-plastic you prefer. Natural colors seem to be the best producers although in muddy or stained water, I find that dark and bright colors work well given their color-contrasting silhouette in the water.

- Oval-shaped weighted float: This style fishes well in deeper water with heavily weighted soft plastics or live bait. I typically rig these with 30 to 36 inches of 30-pound mono leader and 1/4-ounce jigheads. I have become a fan of the floats and Knotty Hooker jigheads manufactured in Alvin, TX by Baad Marine Supply.

- Clear plastic torpedo floats: These nearly invisible hollow floats are 2.5- to 3.5 inches long and work great for fishing clear water with skittish fish. One of the qualities of this float is that it can be rigged inline while casting lures where a predetermined presentation depth is needed. This clear float can be rigged as close as 12 inches to your lure to keep it from hanging on shell, grass or other bottom clutter. I like to rig this float when casting shrimp into schools of black drum and sheepshead.

Get geared up for a new fishing season about to get underway. Getting on the water this month before the winter cold sets in can be very rewarding. Fewer boats make for less stress on the fish and the fishing area. These simple facts make sense to all who are "salty."