Winter here on the middle coast has been mostly mild compared to years past. Granted, there were some cold spells that enabled Gary to burn his fireplace more than a few times but they did not last long. It has also been a very soggy winter as well. Lucky for us, local rain, even in great amounts, does not have much effect on our bay waters. It usually takes large amounts of water flowing down the Guadalupe River from up around San Antonio to turn the bays too fresh. I personally feel our bay waters are extremely healthy at this point and look for spring fishing to be one of the best yet.
March is what I consider a transitional month for fishing. This time of year our bay waters are warming and fish are starting to make the transition from muddy bottoms to hard sand shorelines. This is good news for those anglers, like me, who have spent the last couple of months wading in muddy back lakes. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m done with mud altogether, though. March’s wind always forces us to seek protection for days at a time in the back lakes.
With cold fronts being fewer and farther between, expect to have more south and southeasterly winds. Drift fishing action is usually very good in early spring but a good drift anchor is an absolute must-have. There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to slow the boat and fish productive areas thoroughly; some days you might need two. There are many brands out there that will do the job, just make sure you buy one that is rated for the length of your boat. It is also handy to have a float attached to your drift anchor in the event it comes untied from the boat.
Streaks of off-color water will be one of my targeted areas. Smaller baitfish will use murky water as camouflage from larger, predator fish. Fishing in these conditions, I will usually opt for darker plastics or one of the louder topwater plugs. Bass assassin's four-inch Sea Shad in Magic Grass is a good producer for me. I also like to throw She Dogs when I'm fishing in choppy conditions because the noisier plugs will attract more attention than models that make less noise. I can't say that I'm a big believer in colors when it comes to my topwater plugs. To be honest, with the greater casting distance of larger plugs, I tend to throw colors that I can see easier at the end of my cast. My personal belief is that it’s more about the sound and action than the color.
Fishing plastics under a popping cork is also a good method to use under windy and/or off-color water conditions. Many times fish seem to be attracted more to the chugging sounds of the cork than what they are going to eat when they get there. The same as a topwater, sound and surface commotion of the popping cork should be adjusted with the conditions and depth of water fished.
Scented soft baits are an excellent choice, especially when paired with a popping cork. I have had many trips with clients where scented baits have been more effective than live bait due to the simple fact that once you catch a fish with scented soft plastics you can usually cast right back out without having to fumble around for another bait. With scented soft plastics you also don't have to worry as much about pesky hardheads and other bait stealers wiping out your supply.
Concentrating your wade fishing along shorelines with drains and sloughs from back lakes is always a good strategy in March. These waterways will see lots of traffic as fish travel between the lakes and sandy bay shorelines. Focus on areas with plentiful mullet activity in thigh-deep water for best results.
I want to mention one more important tip before closing. Many of you have heard me say this before but with gusty spring winds on our doorstep I think it is important to remind all boaters of the importance of using multiple anchors when leaving your boat to wade. Your Power Pole is a wonderful tool but never trust it as the only means of anchoring the boat on a windy day. Even if your boat has two Power Poles, that may not be enough.A simple Stake-Out stick or traditional anchor deployed along with the Power Pole is very good insurance. Every year we have anglers drown, trying to catch a drifting boat when the Power Pole failed in strong wind. The simple task of using two methods to anchor may just save your life.