The early portion of the spring season is here and there are many changes underway, not only the weather, but also for our shallow water fishing. Water temperatures will be warming up considerably after the winter chill and we should start noticing a lot more bait activity on the surface. Being able to visually see more activity on the surface of the water also means you will be able to hear more splashes and slurps as well. Being able to see and hear helps us as anglers zero in and get closer to feeding fish, more so now than when the weather was colder and bait was not as active on the surface, and neither were their predators.
We will also start to encounter stronger southerly winds in March, which can help and hurt us at the same time. How will the high winds help us? Because we had many calm and cooler days in the past month our water became very clear making it difficult to get close to our speckled and spotted foes without them seeing us and spooking away. The gusty winds will help “dirty” our water just enough to allow us to get within casting distance. Off-colored water is good structure for baitfish to hide in. The choppier water will also act as a noise buffer while wading oyster bottomed areas where it is hard not to crunch shell as you wade along in search of a good bite.
So, with the pluses come the minuses. Too strong wind makes it unsafe to fish the open bay reefs. There have been many times when I will be on a catching spree on the open water reefs only to be thwarted the next day due to gusty winds forcing me to seek areas that are more protected and safe, instead of where I wanted to be, which was back out on the reefs. That's not to say the protected areas won't be holding fish because they will be. It just means that the strength of the wind will hinder the predictability of where you might be able fish from one day to the next.
If you are one of those anglers that are fascinated by topwaters but have never had much luck with them, this is the time to wipe the dust off those plugs and give them another go. Now that the water temps are warming, all fish become more aggressive at feeding time, making a surface plug an excellent choice.
Speaking from my experiences, when it comes to choosing the size and sound of your topwater offering, remember this. Smaller topwaters, like the Super Spook Jr., get a better reaction from hungry fish when used in quieter, less turbulent water. The choppier the water gets, opt for a larger, more obnoxious plug such as a She Dog. The larger size and louder rattle will draw the attention of nearby fish in rougher water.
Instead of tying your line to your plug with a knot such as the Palomar, try tying a loop knot instead. The “loose” connection of the loop knot allows the lure to swing freely and "walk" almost effortlessly – with less effort on your part.
If you find yourself fishing from the confines of a boat and haven’t had much luck with artificials, try using soft plastics like Bass Assassin’s 4-inch Sea Shad under a popping cork. This rig works exceptionally well when drifting back lakes and also around the oyster reefs in San Antonio Bay.
The popping cork allows you to suspend the bait in the strike zone longer, and can help keep you from hanging up on bottom grass and shell. Rattle/pop your cork sharply every 5- to 10-seconds. And don't be afraid to get aggressive with the popping. Just like topwaters, the choppier the water the more aggressively you should be when it comes to popping your cork. The sound of the popping cork imitates the sound a hungry trout when it is feeding on the surface. Trout and redfish are greedy in their feeding. When fish in the area hear this, they will come looking to get in on the action.Gary and I are taking some time off our guiding schedule to attend the upcoming 43rd Annual Houston Fishing Show. We will be in Booth 532. If you are interested in booking a fishing trip or just want to talk fishing, feel free to stop by for a visit.