Hooked Up: August 2016

Hooked Up: August 2016
Michael Fry popped this long trout in a shallow pothole on the Kennedy Shoreline with a 5-inch Bass Assassin. CPR!

It is downright stifling outside. The humidity only intensifies the heat and I am finding our wades ranging a little deeper each day to escape it. Lots of bottled water and a Propel drink are a must for me between wades. Keeping a cotton towel in the ice chest to wipe the face and drape around your neck is a trick I use a lot to keep the core temperature from spiking. Another trick is to pull the drain plug on the ice chest and let the ice-cold water run across your feet throwing a few handfuls on your head and face helps, too. These may seem silly but I have had the unfortunate displeasure of overheating in the past and these little tricks, absolutely, keep the heat beaten back.

It's no secret that August is one of the toughest months of the year to be comfortable on the water and to be humbled by the fish gods. As a diehard lure guide/fisherman I have learned over the years to keep my expectations in check and go with whatever fish are available to make the day enjoyable. We are still going to get our trout bite early in the day, but the bite is rarely prolonged as the sun begins to climb. Many of my clients know that I am willing to leave the wading depths when necessary, deploy the Motor Guide trolling motor, and do some deep-water "rock hopping."

Fishing rocks in 5- to 7-feet of water can be quite effective during the dog days. Almost every visible rock formation will produce at least one bite and sometimes many more. Of course, baitfish presence (mullet) always increases your odds when you find them schooling on the tops of rocks, in fear of what is going to eat them down below.

Another favorite pattern while out on the deep structure, and don't laugh, is finding schools of drum. Yes, black drum!

Now before y'all think I have lost my mind and trying to sell drum charters with topwaters–just hear me out. At some point over the years, quite a ways back, I accidentally mistook a school of black drum for a school of redfish. As I cruised in to "crush" them, I couldn't get a single bite from one of those "schooling reds" but the pesky trout were constantly hitting my lure in the process.

Every time I got a hit, I would set the hook thinking it was surely a red, only to discover another trout. After landing maybe ten or so I finally got the redfish bite I was looking for, and it was a rodbender. The fish looked to be fully 30-inches from a distance but, when I got it to the boat, I realized she was a big trout!

Call it a light bulb moment. As the sun rose higher I realized that I was chasing drum instead of reds, but the whole time I continued to catch trout, some big, some small. I finally figured out that these Ol' Wily Coyote trout were letting the drum do all the heavy work by scaring the bait in their path out to the edges of the school. The trout were just cruising the fringes, gorging on the free buffet the drum provided.

Over the years I have utilized this strategy many, many times with great success. In August 2007 I used it to win the Baffin Troutmasters and Angler of the Year for the series. As much as I love to wade, I never got my feet wet that day, and caught trout to 30-inches while letting the black drum "guide" me to the winning fish.

On a side note: If you accidentally catch a black drum, you don't have to tell anyone. Just eat the evidence. They are delicious.

August lure choices: The topwater bite has been good in the early morning when you can find the mullet rafted up. The flats on the south shoreline of Baffin have been loaded for this early morning action. Once the sun comes up the bait will start dropping below the surface pretty quickly. When this takes place, it's all about the 5" Bass Assassin for the rest of the day. I have extreme confidence in this lure to keep the bites coming throughout the day. The higher the sun rises and the heat increases, we are progressing out to deeper wades to keep the action going. This same pattern will likely continue throughout the month and on into September.

Remember the buffalo! -Capt. David Rowsey