Mid-Coast Bays: March 2014

Mid-Coast Bays: March 2014
Barbara Dalby came dressed for success, and succeed she did!
It is not surprising that fishing here on the Mid-Coast has had its ups and downs lately due to winter having been harsher than normal and hanging on so long. February often gives us excellent fishing during warming periods but the patterns remain largely the same as January. Normally, come March, we begin to see some transition toward areas the fish will use well into spring.

I'm hoping we will start to see some warmer weather and, thankfully, this will have a lot of anglers eager to get out and re-hone their fishing skills. But we all know that while Old Man Winter may have loosened his grip, he probably will not let go completely. So while we should start seeing some warmer weather we still have to be prepared for a few more cold fronts that are sure to be pushing through our area.

As a guide I am asked a lot of questions but the most common is "What should we bring on our trip."

I always give my clients a word of caution during this time of year, while the weather may feel good at home it will be much different when you get out on the water. Winds coming off the water are always cooler than the winds on land and unfortunately, there are no trees or buildings to provide wind blocks out there.

Dressing in layers is necessary in order to be comfortable and able to concentrate on fishing instead of worrying how cold you are. Even with no rain in the forecast, bring a rain suit as it makes a great windbreaker. And, don't forget to cover your head. More body heat escapes through our heads than any other part.

So how does all this weather fluctuation affect the fishing? Rapid swings in the thermometer from cold to hot and then cold again in just a few days is always a challenge. I don't think I need to tell most of you that when it is cold fish tend to migrate to our warmer muddy-bottomed back lakes and just the opposite when our waters warm. When temperatures are on the rise fish will start to migrate out of our back lakes and head to the outside sandy shorelines that line our area bays.

Challenging as the ups and downs of temperature will be, wind will be yet another factor I have to consider. Calmer, warmer days will lead me toward sandy shorelines with sloughs leading to back lakes. Look for speckled trout to be more scattered this time of year but luckily they will be heavier due to their added pre-spawn pounds.

Cooler, windier days will push those same fish back up into the warmer back lakes. Because many of our back lakes are muddy, long drifts is one of the better options, especially if you do not like or cannot wade sticky mud.

Artificial baits such as Berkley's Gulp Saltwater 5" Jerk Shads are a good go-to bait for both trout and reds. They are impregnated with Gulp's Scent Dispersion and the scent released by this soft plastic is powerful and far reaching. When "Texas-rigged" they have a great erratic darting motion that imitates a struggling baitfish. My best producer is the natural sardine color. Bait stealers, like pinfish, have been known to jump on these baits quickly due to the natural smell, but they hold up well and the chaos attracts attention, which brings in the trout or red from a distance.

March is the perfect time to break out your favorite topwater and it's the ideal fish-finding lure. Topwaters imitate big baitfish which is what large female trout love to feed on during these cooler months. Let the fish dictate which retrieve they prefer. When getting more blowups than hookups, try speeding up or slowing your retrieve, and add pauses. While topwaters provide no scent they are highly visible and audible to all fish and will yield great rewards.

Gary and I will again have a booth at the Houston Fishing Show, March 5-9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. We don't get away from Seadrift often so we look forward to meeting new friends and chatting it up with old acquaintances and clients. Come see us in Booth 528 and say "Hi!"