Hooked Up: April 2009

Hooked Up: April 2009
Since I started guiding I have always made it a point to be brutally honest with my clients regarding our chances for the day. Now that I am doing a monthly article for TSFMag, I think it is only fair that the readers get to hear it just as I have been telling my clients lately, and prior to their arrival.

Many times fishermen's expectations of fishing Baffin/Upper Laguna Madre (ULM) are unrealistic. Many sports show up and expect to catch a 30" trout just because they are in best bay along the Texas coast to do it. Well, it is just not that simple, and this spring has proven to be one of the toughest in recent memory.

There a number of attributes that have made conditions less than ideal, but I would like to share what I think are the main culprits: Water quality, and lack of grass.

In the January issue I touched on the fact that I was excited about the water clarity, and being able to cast to specific pieces of structure. I guess I jinxed it for all of us, because now we have an algae bloom that has been hampering our efforts from south of Pure Oil Channel in the ULM, and on into Baffin. This bloom is different from the brown tide. It is actually green in color, and from a distance, you would think the water is "trout green." Those high hopes are let down a bit when you get in and realize that you only have about 4"-6" visibility. The structure that you can see is shallow, and requires some good sunlight to make your casts productive.

Larger than the algae bloom, is the lack of grass this year on area shorelines. What made it disappear? I wish I knew the exact answer to the question, but I think it is a combination of a few things. Being that we are in a serious drought, our already hyper saline bay system is even saltier. My personal opinion is that the grass is less tolerant of the high salinity than most of us ever gave it credit for. Combine high salinity with lack of sunlight penetration (attributable to algae bloom), ripping winds, many thousands of ducks pulling it up, and I think we have a possible recipe for the disappearance.

The lack of grass is a big deal to me. Without it carpeting the bottom of the ULM, and many areas of Baffin, the lack of that natural filter allows for the bottom sediments to become disturbed and dispersed throughout the water column. The ULM has always been able to take a pounding from hard winds and retain above average water clarity. The lack of grass has changed that for us this spring.

The good news is that we have still been catching some large trout. We are working a little harder for them, but we are still getting them. By the time y'all get this article in your hand, April will be upon us.

Prospective and new clients always ask me the same question, "What is your favorite month to fish?" The truth is that I'm pretty fond of all months; however, mid-September to mid-November are my least favorite. Historically, April and May have always been big producers for me. I have experienced many years of high winds and ugly water only to have them vanish overnight during this time period.

Typically, the full moon that falls closest to the end of April and beginning of May will bring our spring bull tide. When this happens we generally, get a large influx of clean water coming from Port Mansfield via the Land Cut. Many trout come along with the clean water, and new bait supply. It can truly be the most remarkable fishing one could ever experience. Considering what has been taking place from January through March, I am ready for the wind to get below 20 mph, spring tide to come rolling in, and things back to normal around here.

The pattern has been waist deep water and less around here. Most of the fish have been caught on 5" Bass Assassins, straight tail style, rigged to 1/16 oz. jig heads. Bass Assassins have 80% of the spotlight, with Corkys and top-waters filling in the other 20%. April will find us giving the topwater lures first nod in the morning and throughout the day. Bass Assassins and Corkys will see equal time in our efforts.

Be proactive... Practice Catch & Release.

Capt. David Rowsey