Hooked Up: July 2012

Hooked Up: July 2012
"Brown water" is a good thing poured over ice cubes after a long day on the water but, fishing in it is more of a buzz kill than a relaxed feel. The brown tide has prevailed over the Super Moon tides of May. Areas south of Baffin are holding decent clarity, despite the brown water found throughout Baffin and the Upper Laguna. Although we are working harder than normal for bites, we are still catching fish in the off-colored water. I believe the water clarity affects us as fishermen more than it does the fish. In all actuality, this may be Mother Nature's way of protecting the species. God only knows that no one else is doing anything about it.
Fishing lures in the brown tide does take some patience, unless they are just tee'n off on topwaters. Having dealt with this issue many times over the years I have learned a few techniques that give me the confidence I need to continue catching quality trout. Saying that, they are not necessarily my favorite ways to fish, but they are affective, and don't croak.
Most all of us love topwaters, and if you don't, you need to when fishing brown tide. The disturbance it makes on the surface and the loud cracking of ball bearings and plastic can be a lifesaver in the brown water. In fact, they can be even more productive than when used in clear waters, due to the poor visibility denying the trout opportunity to thoroughly check out what it is eating. The MirrOlure She Dog is far and away my top producer when drawing them up for a surface bite.
I usually reserve paddle tail plastics for redfish, although trout eat them too as we all know. Growing up a bass fisherman, I fish them just like a mindless spinner bait - cast and reel. That technique works really well for reds; however, I use lots of stops and pauses when targeting trout with paddle tails. Bass Assassin's 5" Sea Shad, and the Die Dapper are my go-to lures when I need a tail thumping vibration in the low visibility water. Because I have these lures in almost constant motion, I prefer a minimum of a 1/8 oz. jig head, and as large as a 3/8 at times. The heavier jig head really exaggerates the movement of the tail, even when you pause it.
The first trout I ever landed over nine pounds was on a cork and jig. It was a good method then and remains to be one today. There are many styles to choose from but I have always been partial to the Mansfield Mauler or the Cajun Thunder (both in the slim cork design). There are some different trains of thought on how to rig them, but I'll just pretend that my rigging choice is the only one that matters. I prefer a leader to be no longer than half the depth of water, and no shorter than a third of the depth. Like the paddle tail, I prefer a heavier jig head, minimum of 1/4 oz., and as large as a 1/2 oz. Long casts, hard rod whips in varying combinations, and pauses of up to ten seconds works best for me. You can fish just about any kind of plastic under it, as long as it is white! I prefer the 5" Bass Assassin.
With so many lure choices on the market, this trick may surprise y'all, 'cause seems like no one ever mentions it anymore. The silver spoon! Yes, the antiquated silver spoon gets some serious play time during brown tide cycles. I have already been laughed at and had fun poked by clients this year when I pull it out of the box but, the jabs usually turn into "Do you have another spoon?" before it is all over. The spoon can be fished like any plastic and jig combination or simply retrieved with short pauses. The old timers are not surprised as it was once the best big trout lure available but, it is rare that the new breed will ever have one in their wade box. One other thing about the spoon, rig it with a split ring directly to the spoon and a barrel swivel on the split ring. No mono leaders should be involved. This tip will save you a whole bunch of money and headaches from line twists.
From the bottom of my salty heart, these are the tricks of my trade during brown tide blooms. They will work you as they do for me on a daily basis.
Remember the buffalo. -Capt. David Rowsey