Mid-Coast Bays: February 2014

Mid-Coast Bays: February 2014
Bundled up on the bank of a large backcountry slough.
Writing this article, the north wind is bending tree branches to the breaking point and the temperature is hovering around 30 with a forecast calling for a dip into the 20s overnight. I was supposed to be running a cast and blast trip tomorrow morning but my clients ran into trouble with flights and can't make it until the following day. I didn't mention how glad I was.

Don't misunderstand me, this type of weather brings more ducks to the middle coast but it also makes for a very cold airboat ride in the pre-dawn. It really doesn't hurt the fishing in the areas we have been catching but it does make you have to think more about your game plan. Having a game plan is the most important thing you can do to prepare for your outdoor trips, whether fishing, duck hunting or deer hunting.

My game plan for blustery days is to hunt ducks until about 9:30, or until we limit and/or they stop flying. Then we head for area drains that are deeper than the surrounding backcountry flats.

It is common for fishermen to think that when the tide falls with a passing front all the fish evacuate the back lake regions. This is not the case! Some redfish and larger specimens of the speckled variety will linger in deeper guts and sloughs, along with a variety of forage, until the tide rolls back in.

One of the coolest things in this kind of weather is that you don't have to worry about other fishermen potlicking your spot. Most of the potlickers will be up the Victoria Barge Canal in search of easy prey, trolling and throwing soft plastics at the dropoffs. At least while they're up there they can keep an eye on each other; it does get crowded.

Back to our game plan; during these blustery fronts we will wade the deeper guts that give our quarry sanctuary from the colder temps, it might be a small temperature difference, but enough to sustain them through extended cold snaps.

Not all the sloughs can be waded, so when fishing the deeper ones we frequently walk the sides, casting down the slough with Bass Assassins crawled along the bottom. This is the perfect place and time to pull out your favorite Corkys also as their slow sinking ability will really get the attention of even the most sluggish fish.

The lure we have been relying on most when slough fishing is the Bass Assassin 4-inch Sea Shad in either Baby Bass, Bone Diamond or Opening Night. We rig with the 1/16 ounce Assassin screw lock jig. Quite often this bait will out-produce all others, hands down. I believe the tougher texture of other lures, that becomes even stiffer in cold water, is a handicap and they cannot wiggle and swim like an Assassin. I also believe fish will hold onto softer baits longer, allowing for a more successful hookset.

When fishing these extreme weather changes it is best to use braided line as some of the bites you will get are so subtle that you will not really feel the tap of the cold trout on monofilament. Don't get me wrong, if you're not into braid I'm not going to harp on it, but once you get used to throwing the braided stuff you will catch fish that you wouldn't have if you were using monojust saying.

I won't name any brands because I have tried many and have not found one that truly stands out from the rest so far. If someone has a brand they think out-performs the other products they have tried, please give me a shout or an e-mail and I will try it. I do a lot of switching back and forth between my 12# Trilene Big Game and 30# braid during the year but during these colder months I will definitely be sticking to the braid.

Another tool that has allowed me to catch fish that I believe I might not have caught otherwise are the new 6'7" Waterloo HP Lite and the 6'6" Waterloo Ultra Mag rods I have been using. I will always have both rods with me, rigged and ready to go. If you have not tried one yet you are seriously missing out. You owe it to yourself to give Jimmy at Waterloo Rods a call or, better yet, if you catch me at the dock you can make a few casts with both and decide for yourself.

Fish hard, fish smart!