Pro Tips: August 2010

Pro Tips: August 2010
Drain in Louisiana back marsh on falling tide and slick calm. Every fish could be seen as they pushed off the flat and into the drain.

Has it been hot or what? I have traveled from Port Mansfield to Lake Charles over the past three weeks and temperatures everywhere have been stifling. Hydration and clothing that protects and breathes are absolute musts. Simms has clothing for just these conditions, all designed for comfort along with a very stylish look. I like looking good when I'm dying of heat exhaustion!

Winds are finally starting to subside during the evening hours allowing for some clearing of the water in the open bays. Makes for very hot days but I like the ability to move around this time of year. This certainly provides the angler with more options and in the peak of the tourist season multiple options are certainly a bonus.

August is a month when I begin thinking of redfish as the primary target and trout as secondary.

Three things will aid in the success of locating and catching redfish this month low tides, light wind, and rising daytime water temperatures. The combination of the three results in redfish congregating in areas that nearly everybody can access here on the mid-coast.

Low tides leave some areas of the flats and backwater marsh virtually dry so it is easy to understand that the deeper drop-offs surrounding such areas will be holding most of the gamefish. Redfish and black drum are notorious for pushing as shallow as they can get during the FALLING water and then backing off as the tides and the water temperatures rise for the day. Nighttime cooling, even though it may be slight, and incoming water, will afford the fish easy access under a cloak of darkness. No doubt this brings a ton of nighttime feeding no matter what the moon phase might be.

This is not all bad. It has been my experience that a working knowledge of an area's drop-offs and deeper-water travel zones allows us to be in position as they exit the flat and enter the drop-off. Predatory fish are opportunistic; they eat when food is in front of them. Higher water temperatures create higher metabolism thus the fish burns more calories. This can create a situation where the fish might feed in longer intervals than normal. Midday to afternoon feeds can be awesome along drop-offs adjacent to shallow flats or around the mouths of small drains that feed shallow backwater marshes.

Light winds during the dog days create the opportunity for anglers to not only see redfish tailing or pushing bait but it also allows the observant angler the luxury of watching how the fish move around the flat and use the travel zones. I feel comfortable in stating that exit routes are most probably entrance paths as well. By making such observations we can plan our approach to and from the area and never get too close to the actual fish highway. I learned this many years ago and have found that it applies to just about every fishery that I have had the good fortune to visit.

Last week in the Louisiana marsh we discovered some fish in a back lake and, after two days in the blistering heat without a breath of wind, had discovered the routes by which they entered and exited the marsh. We also discovered the holding areas the fish would use during non-feeding periods. A lack of wind can slow the bite but it certainly helps us locate more fish.

Finally there is the heat issue. Rising water temperatures will definitely drive the fish to the drop-offs. On flats less than two feet deep the surface water temperature can sometimes approach air temperature according to my temperature gauge. By the way, if your boat or your GPS unit is not equipped with a surface water temperature gauge you need one. No way can you pattern fish if you don't know what the water temperature is in the area you are fishing. The need for this is even greater come winter; I promise. On very hot days the heat drives the fish out of shallow water and into the deeper cooler water by the midday hours. This is one of the main reasons so many redfish anglers prefer an afternoon of fishing versus a pre-dawn run across the bay. The sheer number of redfish along the drop-offs is greater and this sets the stage for steady catching. I still make the pre-dawn runs because I like to try for a few trout before the sun gets a good bead on the bay. You can bet though, we'll be chasing reds as the water warms later in the day.

My favorite lures this time of year are typically small topwaters such as the MirrOlure She Pup and swimming-type plastics such as the Bass Assassin 4" Sea Shad series. Weedless spoons of 1/4 and 1/2 ounce are also good bets when the perch insist on nipping the tails off your plastics. Remember that swimming-style baits lose their appeal when the paddle tail is gone. Hey, I have seen people cast multiple times before discovering the tail was gone!

May your fishing always be catching. - Guide Jay Watkins