March fishing around Seadrift-Port O'Connor was about good as I've ever seen. Our winter was mild, especially if you compare it to the last couple, and we are already seeing fish where they normally wouldn't show until sometime around mid-April. What all this means to me is that while I was running duck and redfish combo trips in the marsh, I was probably missing some excellent wintertime trophy trout fishing.
While we have been catching good numbers of solid trout since last fall, depending where you fish this time of year, you can run into lots of schoolies. Please be gentle when removing hooks and releasing the future of our trout fishery. Too many times I see people cussing the schoolies and chunking them over their shoulder and casting right back to the same area. After about five small trout (I'm talking 6" to 10" trout here) you really need to be moving on. These little guys fight for their life when hooked and dropping them in the boat or tossing them over your shoulder is unnecessary. Okay, I'm sure you get the message - enough of the soapbox.
Everybody has their favorite places and type of structure for the various seasons. During the month April mine are coves, back lake entrance creeks and back lake openings, and I would like to discuss my approach to fishing each of these.
Coves- As the name implies, these are shallow indentations along shorelines that interrupt current flow and give the bait, trout and redfish a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of boat traffic, and major predators such as dolphins and sharks. My usual approach to fishing a cove is to enter from the bay side and wade in slowly, fanning casts to obvious structure such as guts, grassbeds or reefs, and of course any sign of bait. I do not like to wade all the way to the back of a cove. Stop as soon as you reach the back shoreline with a long cast. Quite often the best fish are in the very back and wading all the way in will likely spook them.
Back Lake Creeks- A good example of what I call a back lake creek would be Cottonwood Bayou located along the north shore of Matagorda Island, a bit north of Ayres Point. Some people refer to these as drains. Depending width and depth, I either wade into these creeks from the bay side or walk along the banks. I concentrate my casts toward deeper water, ledges and points, all the while casting up the creek toward undisturbed water.
Back Lake Openings- Some of these were originally creeks that washed ever wider during storms over the years and now leave a back lake partially exposed to the open bay. The back lake is still its own shallow estuary system of sorts because the original land mass between it and the bay is now a shallow sand bar that discourages boat traffic and large predators from entering. A good example is the front of Cedar Lake in San Antonio Bay. I like to park the boat upwind whenever possible and wade the general contour of the shorelines, casting to the various grassbeds and other structure. The bait will usually tell us where the trout and reds are concentrated. In most back lake openings you will find some remnant of the original drain that connected the lake to the bay and these are often fish magnets by virtue of depth.
As much as I would like to go further, we have some other exciting developments here at Bay Rat Guide Service and more news to share. At the request of many of our customers, Shellie and I will be setting up a new subscription website we are calling "Grays' Strategies" that you can join and get up-to-date info concerning the where, when and how we are fishing. If you might be interested you can shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] for more information.
In closing I would like to thank John and Tracey Melnar of Piscavore Sportswear for helping Shellie and I find some comfortable fishing shirts that are suited for the rugged life of an angler but also stylish enough for any social gathering. You can see their line of clothing at www.piscavore.com or at a dealer near you.
Fish hard, fish smart!