Hooked Up: May 2015

Hooked Up: May 2015
Great friend and client, Craig Kiefer, with an 8.25 pounder on white Bass Assassin in dirty water. CPR
It's official! My books are now open for summertime charters. If you are thinking about chasing a CCA STAR trout, tagged redfish or maybe just some serious grinding, please contact me now before the days fill up.

Hard to imagine that summer is coming on so fast. It seems like just yesterday we were layered-up in Simms gear and hoping the sun would come out to warm our freezing hands. Well it's warm down here now, the shorelines are bright green from the numerous rains this spring and the air is filled with songs from shorebirds.

I will admit that the second half of March and early April provided some unusually tough fishing. I and quite a few others often found ourselves scratching our heads at the end of the day like we'd been in a car wreck. Some of our best days during this time span would have been considered tough under normal circumstances. It was a tough run, and one I do not care to experience again.

The actual cause could be any combination of things, but I think the primary issue is water quality, followed closely by fishing pressure. With the water in Baffin being negatively affected by brown tide, most boats are piled into the cleaner waters of the Upper Laguna. There were days when it seemed you could walk the entire King Ranch Shoreline jumping from boat to boat. I have never seen traffic in this area comparable to what we have witnessed this spring. With the popularity of bay fishing, social media and internet forums, it may well be the new norm emerging.

About the time this magazine hits the newsstands we should be in full swing of our larger spring tides. This will be like a shot in the arm to the bay system. If history repeats, green water from the south will push into Baffin and dilute some of the brown water. Riding the tide will be baitfish in all forms and predators in pursuit. The thought of wet wading and bombing topwaters into rafts of mullet sounds pretty good to me right now. I know the clients are looking forward to it, as it is one of the most common questions I receive"How's the topwater bite?"

In the event that the water does not clear up to sight-casting quality, we are going to have to step out of our normal comfort zone to be successful day in and day out. I was fishing here in the horrible brown tide of the 1990s and it was not until Hurricane Bret hit in August of '99 that we got some relief in the form of clear water from the brown monster. I was in my early-20s during that tough time period and likely has a lot to do with me fishing confidently through dirty water, treating it as though it was crystal-clear. Young, dumb to advice from others, and pure determination kept me pluggin' through it all. In the process, a few tricks were learned that I still utilize today when conditions call for it.

My first-ever trout over nine pounds (1990) was on a Mansfield Mauler with a roach-colored Queen Cocahoe Minnow dangling underneath. The water color looked like coffee with cream. I went on to use this rig to catch many more big fish with a wide assortment of plastics rigged under it. That combo is as effective day as it was twenty five years ago.

Plastics with exaggerated actions were next in line. Big curly-tail grubs were then and still remain a favorite. As my lovely Hispanic wife likes to say about her gringo husband-captain"White is right." In my opinion, solid white lures seem to stand out in the stained water better than any other color choice. Along with the insane action of the grubs, the vibrating paddle-tailed lures are super effective when swam in on a steady retrieve. No need to over-think the swimming paddle tail; just cast and reel for the best results. Along those same lines, another great one is mostly underutilized nowadays: the 1/2 oz. silver spoon. The flash, vibration, and ability to work effectively within layers of the water column make it a proven producer.

Noisy topwaters, especially those by MirrOlure in the She Dog/He Dog series, are very effective for obvious reasons. Color choices are not as important here but I tend to always have something tied on with bright chrome or gold sides. Like the spoon, reflecting sunlight through the dimness of the water is always a plus.

Remember the buffalo! -Capt. David Rowsey