If there was any doubt about our fishery recovering from the freezes and subsequent fish kills, we can put that doubt to rest right now. Proof that what my dad always said about Mother Nature taking care of herself was true. We have been catching quality trout and reds here in Espiritu Santo and San Antonio bays all through February and March, and all signs indicate it will continue in April.
Bay water temps are currently running 64- to 66-degrees, depending cloud cover. Our flats and back lake areas have been running 65- to 75-degrees, again depending on the cloud cover. This is a very comfortable water temperature for the trout and reds we are stalking, and also for their forage species.
The largest concentrations of fish continue to hold over soft bottoms; our better catches have been made along shorelines that lie in close proximity to drains that connect to backwater areas.
The water temperatures we are experiencing at present put us very close to that magical transition that occurs every spring when the majority of the bait begins to stage along main bay shorelines. Which means the majority of the gamefish we seek will be there, too.
You’ve likely heard me mention time and again, the schools of menhaden and mullet that cruise up and down main bay shorelines. This is the beginning of that pattern.
But until that transition occurs, you will see my new Shallow Sport X3 heading to the many drains and back lake regions of San Antonio and Espiritu Santo bays. My crew and I will be wading back lakes, concentrating on windward shorelines. We target these shorelines because the wind that we curse so much this time of the year will be creating slightly off-colored water conditions (stirred up). Baitfish congregate here and subsequently the gamefish we are targeting will be there with them.
Speaking of springtime wind, I’ll go ahead and make a prediction for the rest of March and all of April. It’s going to blow! It doesn’t matter how early you leave the dock because the wind is going to blow all night. It does back off to some degree overnight but not enough to call it calm.
My favorite lure for this springtime back lake fishing will be the MirrOdine XL in the 18-color pattern – green back, white belly, silver luminescent sides. Another good one is the CH – chartreuse back and belly, silver luminescent sides. For the guy in my group that loves to throw a topwater, it is hard to beat the MirrOlure She Dog in GCRRH - red head, chartreuse back, chrome belly. The red head on this lure makes it easier for the angler to see and will help in keeping track of the action.
I cannot mention any kind of fishing in any bay system without mentioning the tried and true Bass Assassin 4” Sea Shad. This lure has always been a staple in my wading box and will continue to be. I will always have this lure in the Magic Grass and Slammin Chicken colors close at hand. I choose these colors because it covers both the lighter-colored shades (Slammin Chicken) and the more solid-colored shades (Magic Grass). I always tell my fishermen to throw whatever color they have the most confidence in; try not to turn your lure color selection into a “think tank” situation. Just saying; some anglers get carried completely away when it comes to lure colors.
As we head into this spring fishing season, I want to give a big shout out to Coastline Marine in Seabrook for another perfectly rigged X3. I am on my fifth Shallow Sport boat from Cole and Chad Starr and I have yet to be disappointed.
Coastline Marine’s custom aluminum work is second to none and, as they are also anglers and use what they sell, I value their input greatly. There have been numerous times when I thought up something new for a change in my aluminum work and they weren’t afraid to tell me, “That’ll look like crap,” or “That’s not going to work at all like you think it will.” And, after they finish with my Shallow Sport the way they want to do it, it is always rigged better than I had imagined it would be. I have had many of my clients become new Shallow Sport owners or have upgraded their Shallow Sports because of the quality of the rigging on my boats from Coastline Marine.Fish hard, fish smart!