Catfish and flounder taking up the slack
It was not unlike the same feeling I would get as a youngster opening presents on Christmas morning. Even as I unwrapped them I was already thinking, “Man, this is fun, but now I’ve got 365 days before it happens again!”
Such was the case Sunday afternoon. Prior to this past weekend we had been struggling to even get on the water and there we were not only fishing, but “catching” for the second day in a row. In spite of the never ending winds, we got on a solid flounder bite that included several nice slot reds and even a speckled trout, but the rains started before we quit and the water was already muddying up again.
The most unusual thing about this flounder bite was that we boated 15 keepers one day and 17 the next day and never caught the first undersized fish. We didn’t have a flounder over 20-inches, but we didn’t catch a single fish under the 15-inch mark either.
The water was all over the marsh when we arrived each morning and a slow outgoing tide quickly gave way to a hard incoming tide that flooded even more shoreline. A 20 mph south wind allowed very little water, if any, to release and only turbo charged the incoming tide.
We caught a lot of fish on Swim Baits and Sea Shads rigged on horse head jigs, but the tube jig was the real killer for both the flounder and the reds. We sprayed them with Bang garlic scent, but we never tipped our plastics. Saturday the fish were holding in the flooded grass and we had to Texas rig the same baits, but they were in 3 to 5 feet of water and more accessible the next day.
We only kept enough flounder for one dinner and released the rest including all of the reds on Sunday. Several times we had more than one good fish on at the same time and I haven’t done that in a while. We had about a foot and a half of visibility on the outgoing tide, but we lost that pretty quickly with the incoming tide and more dirty water on the way.
Robert Vail and I were talking just a week ago about the number of days lost to the wind in April and the fact that he and his wife, Betty, were having trouble catching enough fish for even one meal.
That is seldom a problem for the Vails as they can usually catch fish when no one else can garner a bite. High muddy water is a major problem for most anglers, but Vail always has a solid Plan B.
Not surprisingly, only a few days later he sent me an e-mail that included a picture of a 29-pound blue cat that he had caught the day before. Once again, he proved that water clarity is never a problem even if you are flexible and willing to change tactics. Yes, Betty was with him and yes, she caught a 10-pounder as well.
Vail catches his share of big catfish every year, but he was especially proud of this fish in that he didn’t catch it on mullet. “I wasn’t even rigged up with my heavier catfish tackle,” pointed out Vail. He embarrassed this big fish by catching it on a light trout rig fishing with a small square of sponge soaked in something that probably smells really bad.
Until the water recedes and clears up a little, there is nothing wrong with a mess of catfish fillets and they put up a heck of a fight on light tackle. I promised not to divulge any of their honey holes, but I talked with two groups of anglers on the river this week that had done well on both channel cats and blues fishing cut mullet on the bottom. Their largest fish was 14- pounds, but they had several more in the 8- to 10-pound class.
The south end of the lake was muddy and still blown out as of Sunday afternoon. There were a few trout up to 4-pounds caught on live bait around Lighthouse Cove Saturday morning, but the water was in bad shape. The jetties will produce the first consistent trout bite once the water starts to clear, but it could be the end of May before the lake fishing improves.