The Wind is Your Friend

The Wind is Your Friend

As I work on this article the temperature outside is hovering around 42° and the wind is out of the NE at nearly 25 mph. Not the best of conditions by any means. The forecast calls for an afternoon high of 55° along with steadily decreasing wind, so we are delaying until noon in hope that it will improve. Another factor influencing today's fishing prospects is the full moon phase we are currently under. Actually it is the day after the full moon so I am expecting a tough bite and the best of it, if you want to term it such, should occur during late afternoon. I'm hoping the feeding pattern will coincide with the improvement in the weather and the combined effect will improve our overall chances.

I make no bones about my feelings toward the actual day of the full moon and the two days that follow. My records indicate tough feeding behavior and brief windows of opportunity within the tough feeding period. The plus side to all this is the size of the trout we typically catch. I am of the opinion that three to four days before and three to four days following the full moon are excellent times to get shots at some of the best trout in any given bay system. The day of the full moon is the toughest of the seven to eight day full moon swing.

I make it known that I have always been a shallow water enthusiast. My expertise, if I have acquired any, lies in the ability to read and interpret the daily movement of predatory species based on the prevailing conditions. Trout are at the top of the food chain and to better understand them one must be able to relate to how predators operate. I have always believed that trout prefer to feed in shallower water when available. Simply put, less water means less area to cover, which results in more energy saved. Trout are not looking for the thrill of the hunt, it's all about harvest. They want to eat and then ease up into the best "hideout" structure in the area and lay up until the next meal is required.

When formulating a daily game plan for the middle to lower Texas coast, we must consider water movement (whether created by tide or wind), wind direction, wind velocity, water temperature, structure, and of course the availability of bait. This probably seems like an awful to digest if you're just beginning to target trophy-class trout. Good news is this magazine offers detailed instruction from those willing to share a lifetime of knowledge with those willing and wanting to learn.

"The wind is your friend" comment that I have made so many times over the years turns out to be true more often than not. Wind-driven current running across shallow grass is a tool that we use almost daily. I can't tell you how many anglers I have disappointed by putting them out on windward shorelines in less than "pretty" water. In Rockport we always have some protected water no matter the wind direction or time of year and, we certainly catch some really good fish in the clear stuff, but the biggest and best days are usually recorded in water the average angler would never have selected on his own. I think you will notice in the photos accompanying this article, the water is dirty and the wind is the culprit.

Of the seven factors I mentioned above, I rank their importance as follows: water temperature, bait availability, wind direction, currents and structure within the specific area. We will experience many windy, cold and overcast days over the remainder of winter that could afford some of us the opportunity of catching that trout of a life time. By no means am I suggesting that one bypass the calm sunny days of winter, these too can be very productive after pro-longed periods of cold with virtually no warming.

I know everyone must grow tired of hearing my continual harping about the importance of locating bait during the winter months. Right now, today, I will go to areas that I know contain the proper bottom structure and ease in and look for signs of bait. If I see them I'll be confident to spend the remainder of the afternoon working this area. Signs of bait could be pelicans sitting or diving, osprey hovering or diving, and of course actual sightings of bait flipping or pushing water. Predators seldom loose awareness of where their next meal is finding refuge.

I do not get hung up on water clarity. I believe that dirty water creates a more natural and instinctive strike from the trout. In my last article I tried to describe the mental picture and mental toughness it takes to stand in an area and allow your day to develop. Trophy-sized trout make up less than 3% of the total trout population so our odds are slim at best. By positioning ourselves in areas with proper bottom structure, ample bait, and quick routes to deeper and warmer waters, we increase the odds sufficiently to justify investing effort in the area. Confidence supports dedication and dedication is rewarded with positive results.

As guide I am not always fortunate to have clients with the focus and mental toughness to work small areas for long periods of time with little results. As the clock is running down on the day, our patience sometimes runs low as well. This is when a move to another area can renew confidence. So far the winter of 2011/2012 has provided reasonable numbers of fish along with the possibility of a big fish as well. This certainly makes my job more enjoyable and it enables my clients to maintain a higher confidence level in the area as well as yours truly.

As for lure choices, mine will be Bass Assassins in the standard 5-inch shad, the 5-inch Die Dapper, the Paul Brown Original (Corky) and Fat Boy now made by MirrOlure and the MirrOlure Catch 5 series of suspending baits. I darker lures in off-colored water and I also find that extremely bright patterns that include loud colors like pink and chartreuse work well there. In clear water I prefer baits that have clear bodies with light colored backs and silver or gold flash. Your wading box should have the following: 5-inch Bass Assassin shad in plum, bone diamond, morning glory, 10W40, Chandeleur Isle and root beer with red glitter. In the Die Dapper line I like sand trout, limetreuse, morning glory with chartreuse and pumpkinseed with chartreuse.

The 5-inch shad Assassin should be rigged with a Bass Assassin Jighead with Mustad 2/0 or 3/0 hook weighing 1/16 or 1/8 ounce. The 3/0 works best for the Die Dapper series. I really like the Mustad black nickel hooks. Moving on to the Corky and Fat Boy, you will need floaters for shallow and clear conditions. I like pearl and chartreuse, electric chicken, dayglow, mossy back mullet, and hot pink, pink with pearl, and chartreuse. Dark red and purple can be great as well on very overcast days when fishing clear water.

As always I hope you learned a little something from this month's article. I discover something new everyday. Each trip should a continuation of the learning process for us and I honestly think the day wasted if we did not at least look for something new that helps us better understand what it really takes to get the job done.

May your fishing always be catching. -Guide Jay Watkins