Mid-Coast Bays: March 2010

Mid-Coast Bays: March 2010

March weather can be fickle. March is usually dismal in the beginning but by the end of the month vegetation is greener and wildflowers are blooming. Average temperatures range from lows of 52 to highs of 74 which is a welcome change from February. This warming trend makes for awesome topwater fishing and, no matter your skill level, explosive surface strikes are thrillers. Even "blow ups" are exciting.

Open any tackle catalog and the array of plug styles and colors offered is amazing. Every time I thumb through those pages I cannot help but wonder how the average angler could possibly choose just a handful and be satisfied. Just in case you might be a beginner, I would like to mention a few of my favorites to help you get started.

But before we get into lure selection we need to discuss knots, rods and presentation. The Loop Knot is the very best for attaching a surface plug. The Loop Knot allows the plug to swing freely providing the action the lure maker designed it to deliver. If you are not familiar with this knot, a Google search will provide many informative sites with illustrations. Learn to tie it.

In the rod department I prefer a medium action stick such as my signature series rods by American Rodsmiths; model SG-WM 6-6. This rod has enough backbone to help you "walk the dog" easily.

Topwaters draw more strikes when they are "walked" in a choppy, left-right-left cadence. The technique is not terribly hard to master but does require practice. A good way to start is by copying someone who has already learned it or simply by trial and error. The idea is to have the lure dance left-to-right repeatedly with as little forward motion as possible. This means you slowly retrieve the slack created. I recommend small plugs such as the Super Spook Jr or one of the smaller Skitter Walks to get started as they require less forearm and wrist motion and seem to "walk" with the slightest twitches compared with larger plugs.

A careful eye on the bait will tell you if you need to adjust retrieve and can also alert you when a fish "zeroes in" on it. You will soon learn the importance of the right amount of slack that should be left in the line. A little slack improves the action of the lure but too much is not good. Frequent pauses of two or three seconds during the retrieve can help draw strikes. Depending upon the fish's mood they may hit it at rest and sometimes they want it moving slowly, sometimes faster. At first you may feel awkward and be tempted to give up but remember it is only through practice that you will get better.

There will be times when you will only get "blow ups" which means the fish struck at the lure but did not get hooked. It is crucial to resist setting the hook too early as you usually only succeed in taking away. Wait until you feel the weight of the fish. That's right; most fish hook themselves. If you are not getting the attention you hoped for, try varying the speed and the pause. And by all means, if you are getting plenty of blow ups and near misses but no hook ups, this is probably the time to try a soft plastic. There will be days when topwaters are good fish locators and little more.

As I've already mentioned, the smaller topwaters like the Super Spook Jr. and/or a Skitter Walk are not only easier to use but are also the plugs I prefer when conditions are calm. I prefer the quiet "tic, tic, tic" of these smaller ones compared to the larger and noisier lures. However, if there is enough wind to produce chop I opt for larger plugs like the MirrOlure Top Dog or She Dog in hopes of gaining more attention.

Now back to that dazzling array of colors; if you were to look in my tackle box you would find mostly natural colors that mimic baitfish and also a few bone. I choose my baits based on size, action, and sound they produce. I often wonder if the wild colors were created to hook fish or the fishermen who buy them.

Gary and I will be in booth 528 at the Houston Fishing Show at the George R. Brown Convention Center, March 3-7. Feel free to stop by and ask any questions you may have, talk fishing, or just say, "Hi!"