Fishing the Galveston Bay complex has been spotty at best. The inconsistency in catching is due to the lack of habitat and lack of fish that we once had. Without sounding like a broken record, I will try to refrain from the same old lecture of how things have changed after Hurricane Ike, the drought, and then the past three years of flooding. We know the times have changed but how do you battle through this lull? We have to fish smart and conservatively!
I have been getting a ton of calls and emails from people dumbfounded on why they cannot catch fish like they used to.The cold, hard, honest truth is that none of us are. I can sit here and act like it’s all good and we have millions of fish and give another positive report on where to go and what to do, but that won’t help much.
We are in a rebuilding process and it is just going to take time for things to get back to normal. It’s easy to blame certain things for a day of bad fishing. In the spring we can blame high barometric pressure, low tides, high wind, glass minnows, and other aspects of the spring transition.
In the summer we can curse the southwest wind, slack tides, and too many boats on top of us. During these spells of tough conditions, we often dream of how many fish we are going to catch whenever the wind does lay down and the tide does get right.
But here we stand in the primetime summer months and the wind is dying and the tide is moving and we still are struggling. We are out of excuses. All we can do is keep battling through. After all, it’s got to get better!
By fishing smart and conservatively, we can still catch fish and save our fishery at the same time. Expectations and perceptions have to change. Gone are the days where we could go out and find multiple schools of fish slicking in the middle of nowhere and just pull in and get ‘em. We aren’t going to catch 40-60 trout a day up to 5-and 6-pounds like we used to. But we can still go out and experience a fun day of fishing. The times they are a-changin’ and we must change with them.
By no means am I trying to be doom and gloom; I’m just trying to be honest. We still have some fish here and by no means am I saying that it’s over. We just have to readjust our tactics and mentality of boxing every legal fish we land. If you pick your days and hit the weather right, fishing can still be good. You just might have to reevaluate what “good” is in your standards.
When I say to fish smart, what I mean is that we have to slow down and dissect every detail of what’s going on to understand the reason why the fish are doing what they are doing and why they are where they are. Often times we get into a rush and want to power through an area or pull up to a spot and give it 10 casts, and then keep on rolling. You’ve got to really slow down and find out where the fish are and exactly what they want. Once you learn this, remember it, it will help you narrow down your choices and eliminate wasted time.
I remember years ago on a wade trip with Mickey Eastman; we were wading a cove and I wanted to walk really fast, fan casting a topwater. After 30 minutes and not a bite, I told Mickey, “Let’s get out of here. They’re not here or they’re not eating.” To that he replied, “We aren’t going anywhere.”
Two hours later and still no bites, we finally saw a slick pop and for the next hour we experienced a bite I will never forget. Three of the fish we caught on that wade weighed more than seven pounds.
That day taught me a lot and stands as proof that it pays to slow it down. Once you slow down and really grasp what’s going on, you will fully understand all of the pieces of the puzzle that make this game tick and have a greater appreciation for the sport.
In closing, I wish everyone the best on the water and I encourage everyone to try to fish smarter and learn as much as you can. The fishing will get better and we will be just fine. The slowest of days are usually when we learn the most!