Hooked Up: July 2014

Hooked Up: July 2014
Craig Kiefer with another great fish. This 29 had already spawned but fought like a heavyweight.  Gear: Quantum EXO reel, Waterloo Ultra Mag rod, Red/Gold Shiner Bass Assassin. Released!
Speaking with respected guides and friends up and down the coast, May was an unusually tough month for getting bites. Between the full moon, high tides, and cold fronts, this usual high-ratio catching month threw some humble pie in our faces. This cycle seemed to be statewide, and not just in a particular area. As we have slipped into June, fishing has improved.

The brown tide is still prevalent throughout our bays. However, there are some areas that are showing signs of clearing, allowing for some sightcasting to potholes and structure. On light wind days the water is brown, but more of a tea color. I can deal with this, and you can too. Just as long as we can make out the structure; i.e., sand holes, grassy fingers, rocks and drop-offs. My clients asked me yesterday, "How much tougher does this stained water make it to catch fish?" I thought that was a good question and one I have let bounce between my ears for years. There are a lot of variables that can go along with that answer, but I think it would be somewhere in the 50% increased-difficulty range. More on real windy days, and much less on calm days, meaning not more than 15 mph.

In last month's article I mentioned my top choices for lures in the stained water, i.e., Bass Assassin Sea Shad 5", She Dog topwater, and the Mansfield Mauler. I forgot to mention one other favorite, the Silver Spoon! The flash and vibration of this old-school lure can be as good as anything on the market and we are planning on making it fashionable again. Another upside to the spoon is that fish rarely see them anymore, unlike topwaters bombing all around them every day. It has proven to be a great way to trick some weary trout and reds of late.

I recently had the pleasure of having three brothers on my boat for a day of wade fishing. We set a record! The Junkin brothers from Kerrville and Victoria. They ranged in age from 78 to 84, and topped out at 87. Oldest group of fishermen that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. It was a fun day, heard many good stories (and repeated myself a lot). It was awe inspiring to watch them get out of the boat and start plugging like they were in their 40s. I had been suggesting and changing lures all morning with minimal results. At one point I looked up and saw glints of gold flying through the air. The big brother went old-school spooning on me and popped two slot reds in back to back cast. The youngest Junkin followed his big brother's lead and soon he was hooked up. I flipped though my box to find that there was no spoon for me. Lesson learned! My box now has plenty "Shorty's Spoons" (Roy's Bait and Tackle) rigged and ready to go for me and clients. I have always had good luck with spoons in off-colored water. I guess I just needed a humble reminder this time.

Steady 20 mph winds have kept the adventure down for me and others, as we sought the protection of Baffin's south shoreline. The area is huge, contains a range of structures, and has more than an ample bait supply. The clarity is not great but it is more tea-color versus that terrible muddy look. If you are willing to grind you will catch some fish, and some dang big ones. When the winds are down, areas like East Kleberg Point have been and will continue to produce.

The cleanest water in the Baffin area is from Summer House (flats at the entrance to the Land Cut) throughout the Rocky Slough shoreline. Although I have not trekked into 9-Mile Hole, reports of clearing water are from that far down south. That clean water will eventually start feeding the Yarbrough area, and hopefully we will have something we can count on, regarding green water and sightcasting.

In closing I would like to remind boaters that people are fishing on shorelines and sandbars throughout the whole bay system. Just because you have a boat that will run in inches doesn't mean you have to. Some of the antics I witness daily makes me wonder, "Are they just stupid or a self-centered Ass/Jerk?"

Y'all be nice and play nice. Catch them good and get home safe. Life is too short.

Remember the buffalo! -Capt. David Rowsey