Deja vu all over again
Rusty Frederick waded into waist deep water before turning his back to a stiff southwest wind and launching a Catch 2000 toward the shoreline. “I hate having to fish like this,” he yelled from only a short distance away, “but we don’t have much choice!” Two casts later, he was battling a fat 25-inch trout!
Rusty and I were wading because we chose to wade one day last week, but it may well prove to be the only option should this Spring prove to be a carbon copy of last year. Daily gale force winds ranked second only to exorbitant gas prices in thwarting area fishermen in 2008 and it is looking as though it could be more of the same in 2009.
In looking back at last year’s logs from Jan. 16 until May 3, I either could not or should not have fished sixty-three days due to high winds. We were able to fish a few of those days only because I had located some fish in semi-protected areas, but even many of the better days were far from calm. I prefer fishing in a little wind, but the dreaded “15 to 20 miles per hour with stronger gusts” forecast is the kiss of death for bay fishermen.
Unlike bass fishing on the impoundments where you can fish protected and productive water if you can survive the boat ride, there are no ridges and tree lined banks to hide behind on area bays.
Salt grass less than three feet tall and wispy stands of Roseau cane trampled by Ike do not block much wind.
The bayous, outfall canals, and river can be fished on the windiest of days, but that action is dependent on a number of variables and the dyed-in-the-wool trout fisherman is really behind the eight ball.
The trout fishing will improve in those areas later in the year, but for the most part, redfish and flounder are your best hope for a fish fry.
Safety is obviously our number one concern, but successfully dealing with the wind in an effort to still catch trout is as much mental as it is physical. Too much wind is especially frustrating when you know the odds of catching a bragging size trout are in your favor and you cannot get to them!
After all of these years of guiding, I have only recently convinced myself that trout will bite an artificial lure regardless of water clarity or the lack thereof. I felt reasonably certain that the fish didn’t cruise around and eventually starve to death waiting on clearer water, but I just could not develop any confidence when my lure disappeared a few inches beneath the surface. I could endure the cold spray served up by inhospitable winds, but my expectations were never very high.
Long story short, we caught some big trout last week in the roughest and dirtiest water I have ever fished in my life. Had my clients not quickly caught five or six fish, I would have made one long miserable drift and left. We already had a few nice fish in the box and were bouncing around in the muddy waves only because they were enjoying their day on the water.
The fish not only zeroed in on a MirrOlure that was brightly colored and rattled, but also jumped on soft plastic Assassins that made no noise at all as they glided through the muddy whitecaps. We were reeling at a furious pace in an effort to keep up with the speed of the drift and the trout still found our lures!
Like it or not, wading is the best approach to effectively fishing a shallow flat in a 20 mph wind. You don’t have to be concerned with drifting over your fish, you can cast to the same spot more than one time, and best of all …. clarity apparently doesn’t matter as long as you are casting into a liquid.
Before I talk you into jumping in the water on a day better suited for flying a kite, remember that I am talking about dirty water caused by excessive winds. You still have a favorable salinity level and acceptable surface temperatures. If, however, the dirty water is the result of flooding that significantly lowers the salinity level, the trout are going to suspend at a comfortable depth in the ICW or river and all bets are off.
Here’s hoping that we do not get blown out this spring and that gas prices do not continue to rise. Should we not be that fortunate and you consider yourself a hard core trout fisherman, don’t fret over ugly water, save your gas money, and beat the wind with waders and confidence!