March fishing in the Port O’Connor-Seadrift area has been on fire. As a matter of fact, fishing has been great all winter except when Old Man Winter would sneak in on the coattails of a strong front and shut it down for a couple of days with strong north wind and generally miserable conditions for fisherman. Based on what we have experienced thus far in early spring, I think the fishing should continue to be great through the month of April.
My clients and I have been using many different techniques to trick our quarry. I always get some groups that do not want to wade, so we make long drifts in larger backwater areas that were holding lots of mullet – lakes such as Panther, Contee, Pringle, and a few others. I like these larger bodies of water due to the fact that we can get in and set up long drifts without spooking so many fish as often happens in smaller lakes.
My approach to drift-fishing backwater areas includes great reliance on my Minn Kota I-Pilot troll motor to make adjustments to the angle of the drift rather than drifting purely at the mercy of the wind. Also, rather than cranking the outboard to circle back for another drift, I prefer to leisurely troll back. Doing this seems to keep the fish from dispersing from the area once they are located.
An aspect of drift-fishing some anglers do not seem to understand at first is the requirement to adjust the speed of your retrieve to compensate for the forward speed of the boat. What I’m saying here is that you will need to retrieve your lure faster than normal to keep the lure at the desired depth. We try to work our lures at a speed that occasionally bumps bottom and dredges up grass every once in a while. Generally speaking, if you’re not down in the grass you probably won’t get as many strikes as your buddy that is catching a little grass.
We have better success on the drifting trips throwing soft plastics such as Bass Assassins Sea Shads rigged on 1/8 ounce jigheads. The paddletails on these lures seem to “call” the fish in better than others with rattail shapes. I’ve had some guys go up to 1/4 ounce jigheads but they would have to work their plastics very fast to keep it in the strike zone and thereby pass up a lot of potential strikes. A good rule of thumb is to go as light as you can on your jigheads but still be able to get the casting distance and be able to “feel” the lure during the retrieve.
We also have good success with the MirrOlure MirrOdine XL in the CFPR color (chartreuse back, pearl body, silver luminescence) and Soft-Dines in the 126 color (purple back, crushed pearl, orange throat). These are slow-sinking twitchbaits that can be worked with great success from a drifting boat.
Topwater action has been just OK at best on calmer days, not steady enough to keep them tied on for very long. Seems like there is always that one guy in the group that says he only wants to throw topwaters and I always tell them that if that’s your confidence bait then go with it. They soon learn why we recommend the paddletails.
We work the same backwaters on wading trips and this usually plays in our favor as we are able to work the areas more thoroughly at the pace we choose – not the speed the wind pushes the boat – which means we can target potholes, edges of grassbeds, and windward shorelines without disturbing the fish.
We tend to stick with the paddletails when wading given that the majority of anglers can work them effectively. There are many styles and brands available nowadays but here again I’m very partial to the 4-inch Sea Shad on 1/16 ounce Assassin jigheads. Two colors have earned go-to status; Purple Chicken when water conditions call for lighter colors and Magic Grass for darker situations. Carrying more than these two colors usually ends up with anglers spending too much time switching baits when the bite slows down.
During April we expect to see more bait moving from the backwaters to the front beaches of the main bays and the game species will follow. Needless to say this is where we will be focusing our efforts as we see that movement developing.Fish hard, fish smart!