Confidence more important than color
After canceling parties every day last week due to gale force winds, Mother Nature decided to give it a rest Saturday morning. By the time that unexpected blessing occurred, however, I had already dedicated the weekend to hiding Easter eggs, hosting a family gathering, church services and hiding a few more eggs!
At this point, it looks as though we will be dealing with a stiff southeast wind the early part of the week before it switches around to the north again on Wednesday or Thursday. A southeast wind leaves us a lot of protected water to fish, but a 20 mph north wind whips the lake into whitecaps and sucks more muddy water out of the bayous and back lakes.
The past two springs have forced us to either get better at dealing with the wind or parking the boat until May. The latter is not a viable option for a guide and while forced to cancel as many parties as I fish, I am still on the water most days looking for a reliable pattern.
The confidence killer for both recreational and professional anglers is poor water clarity regardless of the cause. When your lure disappears from sight less than six-inches beneath the surface, your initial thought is, “How the heck are the fish supposed to find my bait?”
We all know that the fish still have to eat and that they are not going to swim 20 miles in search of their next meal, but we also right to assume that the target zone narrows significantly when predator fish are forced to hunt only by scent or vibration. I know how powerful those senses are, but I am more confident when I think the fish may also be able see my lure several yards away.
If you have lots of time, and the majority of us do not, you can ferret out clearer water whether it be at greater depths, isolated drains bordering the marsh or possibly even the result of a strong incoming tide. I do have lots of time, but I still prefer to experiment with different techniques and colors rather than waste time and gas in search of more user-friendly water.
Accept the fact that the bite is going to be a little slower and take advantage of the vibration and smell factors. The number one mistake is assuming that the fish cannot locate even the quietest of lures based on how deep into the water you can or cannot see. Fish the lure with confidence and allow the fish to make that decision for you.
How much noise does a two-inch minnow make swimming around in the water regardless of clarity? If a trout, redfish or flounder can detect that miniscule amount of vibration they can certainly hone in on your favorite plastic tail.
Before I will give up on a 5-inch Assassin shad or even the smaller 4-inch Sea Shad, I will change retrieves and add a scent. I have great luck with spray on scents like Bang when flounder and reds are involved and I will also tip my tails with a small slice of GULP at times. While there is no doubt that GULP will attract fish with no extra help, adding small pieces to other plastics enables me to fish a broader spectrum of colors and different size tails.
I have caught very few trout on a single spin spinner bait, but the vibration produced by a No. 3 or 4 Colorado blade has proven irresistible to reds and flounder even in water with zero visibility. I have done well with several different spinner baits as long as the harness and blade were gold, but I especially like a 1/4 ounce Red Daddy model for two additional reasons.
The thicker wire diameter makes the lure far more durable and the body of the lure is a scented BLURP Sea Shad. That combination in a single lure solves a multitude of problems. I have found that fishing the spinner bait on a slow steady retrieve much like you fish a Swim Bait produces far more strikes than a stop and go retrieve.
If the bait gets stopped in its tracks, give it a second before setting the hook. If it is a flounder, the pause gives him a little longer to take it down and if it is a red you can’t wrestle the lure away from him anyway!
The wind is here to stay for at least the next four to six weeks. Be confident in the fact that the fish have to eat and experiment a little. You could miss a great bite by opting to park the boat and wait it out!