The Covid-19 “stay-at-home” restrictions have presented Gary and I with lots of time on our hands. We’re still fishing but not with clients, unfortunately. Somedays we fish together from the same boat and other days we split up and take our own boats. We feel it is important that we keep up with the patterns for days ahead when our clients can join us again, hopefully soon. This has been a good time to reconnect with the bays in a new and different way and we are enjoying it.
I had forgotten what it's like to be alone on the water. Through eighteen years of guiding I can honestly say at least 90% of the time was with clients. I'm not complaining, I love all my clients, but fishing alone is just so easy…Does everybody have their wading gear? Who needs jigheads and plastics? Everybody got their net? Do you need me to tie a knot? Is your drag set properly? May I help you adjust your reel to cast farther? Yes, I love my job and my clients, but fishing alone is a joy in its own way.
One of my jobs is keeping our wade line shaped up. Seems there’s always one or two I have to hold back or urge to catch up, in the interest of the whole group getting in on the action. Haven’t had to offer those instructions in a while.
A constant concern is whether clients can handle wading over soft bottom. Even though they’re catching fish, I hate seeing them struggle. I pray every minute they don’t lose their balance and fall. Some days though, love it or hate it, that’s where the fish are. If I find a good bite I like to back off and wave clients over to get in on the fun. That’s what they came to do.
I love teaching little tips and tricks to improve their catching – even though some refuse the advice. I could go on but I guess what I'm saying is I had forgotten how enjoyable it can be to fish alone. Suffice to say this forced time off has been good for my inner-person.
Moving on to fishing: Strong winds are still a big part of the springtime fishing picture. The grass on our sandy shorelines is making a good comeback creating many sandy pockets for targeting fish in West Matagorda, Espiritu Santo and San Antonio bays. This is the time of year when main bay shorelines really shine due to the abundance of glass minnows and small shrimp inhabiting the emerging grassbeds and guts that lie between them. I like to cast just beyond the sand pockets, twitching my lure slowly through the opening, because I know this is where predators will lie in ambush – especially some of the bigger ones.
You want to be sure to have several smaller topwaters in your wade box this time of year. Active schools of small baitfish in relatively shallow water are all you need to see to tie one on. By active I mean glass minnows spraying out of the water because they are getting chased by hungry trout and redfish. Mullet that are frantically jumping two, three, and four times aren’t doing it for exercise; they’re trying to escape becoming somebody’s lunch. These are the most obvious signs but you would be surprised how some anglers never seem to notice.
The grass in our back lakes is extremely healthy and thriving, almost frustratingly thick already in some places. We are seeing an abundance of small baitfish in the lakes and shrimp have been plentiful as well. Weedless rigs are my first choice if I am fishing in these “hairy” back lakes. Topwaters are a good choice too, as long as the floating grass isn’t too bad.
I sympathize with all our angling friends being stuck at home and unable to visit the coast these past several weeks. I know it has to be tough on the mental attitude but just think about how many more fish will be there waiting for you when the stay-at-home orders are lifted. All things heal with time.
I want to give a big shout out to the woman who sacrificed so much in her life for her family. Mom, it was your love of fishing that has helped me get to where I am today. You are the strongest woman I know, even at the darkest of times. I have always been grateful for your encouragement and unwavering love.So, to you Mom, Happy Mother’s Day!