Mid-Coast Bays: March 2023

Mid-Coast Bays: March 2023
My mom, Sandy Zimmer, can’t get enough of these hard-pulling redfish.

Winter is on its way out and we will soon be patterning fish in more springlike conditions. We will also experience more days with strong southerly winds typical of springtime. Don’t be surprised though if Ol’ Mother Nature throws us a few strong cold fronts just to keep us on our toes. It is possible that we may still see some rapid swings in the thermometer from cold to hot and then cold again in just a span of a few days. This in fact can be the most challenging part of March fishing.

Even though we will be experiencing generally warming conditions I won’t venture far from the back lakes, most days. However, should we get some consecutively warm days you might find me browsing the sandier outside shorelines of the major bay systems. If the wind allows venturing into open water, my preference will be the oyster reefs in San Antonio Bay.

During the colder months I almost always slow my artificial lure presentations to a crawl. Slow-sinking baits paid off the most and were my biggest producers given the way they tend to hang in the strike zone longer and the somewhat lethargic fish didn’t have to put forth as much effort to eat it. This will begin to change as the water warms.

During March I lean more toward twitchbaits to get the attention of my quarry. Twitch baits can be either hard or soft and you can choose between either suspending or sinking. They are a lure that is very easy to work with just a twitch of your rod tip. With a twitching retrieve, these baits dart side to side, imitating an injured bait fish. Their erratic movement is so irresistible that even the laziest fish usually can’t resist taking a swipe at it.

Some of my favorite hard twitchbaits are Mirrolure’s 17 MR and XL 27 MR MirrOdine. These hard twitchbaits are really some of the simplest of lures to throw. I really enjoy these baits for some of my beginners because it doesn’t take much finesse to make it look good. A few twitches with my Waterloo HP Lite, allowing the bait to sink a little before another soft twitch is usually all that is needed to draw a strike.

When it comes to a soft twitchbaits, MirrOlure’s Lil John is hard to beat. This unusually shaped, scented soft plastic does not appear to be much when viewed in the package.  But when rigged on an 1/8 oz jighead and worked in the water, the erratic, crazy movement is too much for fish to ignore. I will even pause this bait, allowing it to hit bottom, kick up a little mud, and then twitch a few more times allowing it to fall again. I am able to do this type of retrieve this time of year only because the grass is not thick enough to cause any problems. Once the grass begins to get thicker I will twitch the Lil John a bit faster to keep it out of the grass or even possibly rig it weedless; but that’s more for April and May fishing.

One last bit of advice I want to provide is to treat prop scars as a type of structure, especially when fishing in 2 to 3 feet of water over soft bottom. Prop scars make excellent ambush points for game species to lie in wait for unsuspecting prey. Search out and fish these scars in the same way you would fish oyster beds, grass lines, or washouts. On sunny days my Costa glasses with copper lenses help me find the deeper prop scars by cutting the surface glare and giving me higher visual contrast and clarity. Working my offering all along and over prop scars while drifting in my Shallow Sport has really paid off for me. Give it a try next time.

In closing I want to mention that I have now been guiding twenty-one years full time in the Port O’Connor-Seadrift area. I don’t know where the time has gone but I am thankful for all the experiences. Some great, some not so great. To have as much skin in the game as Gary and I do you know we must have a fantastic sense of humor and bountiful patience. I tell Gary we need to begin compiling our experiences for a book. It would make for a very humorous read, if nothing else. All in all it has been a wonderful ride, forming some very treasurable friendships and meeting some absolutely fantastic people along the way. God willing, I hope to continue this fantastic angling journey.