Hooked Up: August 2009

Hooked Up: August 2009
Sam Stephens - 6.5lb trout - Bass Assassin - released.
Well I guess you could call this the dog days of summer. The heat is in full force, the winds are down, and we are finding ourselves wading out to our necks just to cool off. As a guide that specializes in lures only, August is viewed as one of our toughest months. In theory, it is true, but much of that is weighed on one’s tolerance for heat, and not the fish’s willingness to bite. The trout are still here, they are still big, they still have to eat, and it just comes down to how bad you may want it. For me and my clients…It’s seems we still have the urge pretty bad.

We have caught fish all summer down here, and I am certain we will continue to do the same. We have made certain modifications to the fishing plans but that is normal during seasonal transition periods.

Trout are much like humans. Well, they’re like me at least. We like to eat big early and then spend the rest of our day in a cool spot where we snack occasionally until our next big meal that comes in the evening hours.

Trout tend (usually) to head a bit deeper to some accommodating structure or suspend deeper in water column where the temperature will be slightly cooler. I know everybody has waded in water that felt warm at the surface and cooler at the midriff area. We think it feels great; I believe trout think of it as natural A/C and love to suspend in it.

When the trout are suspended like this they are not always the easiest to catch, as their first priority is to stay cool and comfortable. I’ll be the first to tell you that trout in this mode are not looking for meals, but they can be caught. We, as fishermen, get so caught up in “Gucci” lures that we forget to think about what a trout will actually “snack on” to gain results during these slow periods.

I have come to rely on a few favorites for these suspending fish that just want a snack versus a large meal. The 4-inch Sea Shad by Bass Assassin is my first choice as a swimming bait that can easily be kept at any depth in the water column with a varying retrieve speed. The original Corky, MirrOlure’s Stickbait, and the Heddon Swim’n Image are all top choices that routinely get the job done. The trick is to understand the rate of fall, the depth a lipped crankbait will dive to, and where a slow sinker will suspend on a paused retrieve. I wish it were as easy as just throwing it out and reeling it in, but one of the great things about fishing is the all the toys and learning to maximize their performance. Taking the time and concentrating on these cooler layers within the water column will provide some amazing results for even the warmest days of the summer.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but the fishing pattern has not changed too much down here. We are starting relatively shallow on most days and heading to belly deep water as the sun rises. In some cases we are fishing chest deep, but this is usually due to us trying to reach deep rocks or a deep grass bed. As we head deeper into the water we will start noticing the variations in water temperatures below the surface, and then concentrating our efforts there.

One resource that is being under utilized, and one that I am taking full advantage of, is the edge of the ICW in the Upper Laguna. It is the ultimate deepwater scenario for our bay system, and quality fish are on both sides of it. You will catch five or six dinks per keeper, but the solid fish are there. In fact, I just released a seven-pound trout this afternoon, in the middle of dinks, and a good number flounder. If you have kids that you want to turn on to lure fishing, this is an easy gig with lots of catching, and few big fish mixed in.

In closing, I had to say goodbye to an old friend and family member. He was 10-1/2 years old, trained from seven weeks on Earth, and still the love of my life, next to my wife Sally of course. Any of you who know me well know how much I loved my great Chesapeake Bay retriever. He would swim forever for a downed duck, goose, quail, dove, or dive to seven feet for something at the bottom of the pool. Always obedient and ready to please me at any time, no other will ever take his place. He was “Laguna Madre’s Ace Scout”. Rest in peace, big boy.

“Game fish are too valuable to be caught only once.” -Lee Wulff

“Set ‘em Loose” - Rowsey