As of recent weeks, our fishing patterns here on the Middle Coast are more in line with what we expect during springtime, due to the very mild winter weather we have experienced. Typically, this time of year, you would find me either wading or drifting the back lakes in search of warmer water. But, given the unseasonably warm weather, some of my best catches have been coming from areas that I typically do not frequent until the end of March or first days of April.
The areas I’m talking about are the outside sandy shorelines of Espiritu Santo and San Antonio bays. These areas have been holding plenty of bait and the sea grasses have started to grow after their wintertime slumber. These components are just what a hungry redfish or trout look for when it comes to feeding – food with plenty of structure to hide in so they can ambush their prey.
Most of the sandy shorelines that are in our area have several guts that run parallel to land. As you get further away from the shore these guts get a little deeper until you reach what is referred to as the dropoff. This is the area where the sandbars end and the water is at its deepest point. You are probably wondering why I am giving an explanation on something as simple as what guts are on a shoreline. Well, these guts (also called troughs) are where many predator fish choose to patrol looking for a tasty snack to come swimming overhead or for bait that happens to cruise by on the edge of a sandbar.
As we head into spring, our weather will be dominated by lengthening periods of warm southerly flows and with this comes more moisture and cloud cover. Cloud cover is a huge factor when it comes to fishing. Those beautiful days when there is not a cloud in the sky are usually the best days for picnics, not fishing. Give me clouds and I’m a happy girl.
Why, you ask? Cloud cover is a product of low average atmospheric pressure. Fish sense this and they become willing to feed more often and for longer periods. Some fishery biologists attribute the increase in feeding behavior to the ease with which fish can regulate buoyancy via their swim bladders. Cloud cover also reduces sunlight penetration, and fish become naturally more comfortable staging higher in the water column.
Now that you know how clouds affect fishing, put that knowledge to work. Look for fish to be active and higher in the water column during times of cloudiness. Surface plugs tend to really shine during these times. Choppy surface conditions call for large, noisy plugs. On calm mornings, we will throw smaller, quieter surface lures.
On days characterized by “Chamber of Commerce” skies you can expect the fish to stage lower. Concentrate your efforts in the deeper sand guts, drop-offs and deeper sloughs. All of this holds true even while fishing the oyster reefs in San Antonio Bay.
March is famous for its wind and we just have to find ways to deal with it. Many of the open bay regions will be off limits due to rough and discolored water. If drifting is your preference, you are going to need a drift anchor – aka drift sock – to slow the drift speed of the boat. Drifting too quickly through a potentially good area can hinder your ability to work your artificials slowly and thoroughly. I use a 36” Limit Chaser sock that I purchased at the Houston Fishing Show several years ago, to slow my 24’ Shallowsport. I also bought the rope kit that includes a float, just in case the sock comes unattached from the boat during a drift.
We have come across many sizeable schools of redfish on the sandy shorelines but you can still find numbers of those red brutes cruising around in the shallow back lakes. Don’t be surprised if you catch a larger speckled trout swimming with these shallow water reds. It is that time of year when the larger trout are looking for protected areas to spawn.Gary and I will have a booth at the upcoming Houston Fishing Show at the George R. Brown convention center, March 8 through 12. The Fishing Show is a great opportunity for anglers to check out many new products that will be introduced in 2017. Please feel welcome to stop by Booth 532 for a visit. When we can’t be fishing we enjoy talking about it!