Can you weather the weather

There were a lot of X’s on my calendar last week as one by one we canceled fishing trips due to the weather. Mother Nature really outdid herself pausing only Saturday morning to catch her breath. The only change was the shift from a week of hot muggy winds to a cold wet one Thursday morning.
Saturday morning was picture perfect, however, once the ice finally melted off the deck of the boat. Determined to get in at least one day of fishing on their Thanksgiving break, the Leger’s insisted that we give it a shot Friday morning. It proved to be little more than a waste of gas and we called in the dogs well before noon.
Matt Launikitis and three of his friends took a slightly different approach and waited for the thaw out before meeting me at nine o’clock Saturday morning. They were already in their waders when I met them at the Convenience Center on I-10. It was still in the low forties, but the ice in the boat had been reduced to cold water making the initial boat ride a little more bearable.
The first three hours resulted in little more than long walks in waist deep mud and water and a lot of casting practice. The surface temperature climbed into the mid-50’s around noon and after a short snack break, the group spread out again armed with 5-inch Assassin Shads rigged on 1/8^th ounce heads.
The action started slowly with a pair of slot reds and a missed red that threaten to spool a reel. With the exception of Matt, who appeared to be wading off in the direction of the Causeway, the other three members of the group closed ranks and took advantage of a slow, but steady bite on trout up to 5 1/2 pounds.
Slow, but steady, is the acceptable norm when wade fishing in the winter and the catching continued to improve until darkness forced us off the water. They only wanted to keep enough fish for a group fish fry, but I still wound up wading back to the boat twice to drop off a few fish and get more Assassins.
I have no idea how many more fish they caught and released after I headed in Matt’s direction while attempting to feed a large trout a Corky on the way. I did miss one good fish, but surprisingly enough it was the only bite I would get on a Corky all afternoon.
Matt, on the other hand, had enjoyed a better bite than all of us put together. When I finally waded within ear shot, he was fighting the tenth fish of his second wade into the deeper water. At 6-foot five or so, he was not as vertically challenged as the rest of the group and had that stretch of real estate all to himself.
He didn’t even carry a stringer as he seldom keeps a fish and deftly released that 4 to 5 pound trout without a second look. “How are the other guys doing,” he asked. “I caught a least a dozen fish like this on the first wade and probably that many more this time!”
I was tickled to death for Matt, but a little frustrated that fish that size and that aggressive were not eating Corkies of any color for me. I switched to a tail out of curiosity for the wade back to the main group and caught four solid fish in the same water that I had just fished through with the Corky!
There was very little bait surfacing on the shallow flat, but it remains a mystery why they wouldn’t eat a suspending lure when you had to swim a tail to get them to hit it with any consistency. More importantly, however, the group caught far more fish than I anticipated even if it took plastic tails to get it done.
Brian Sandow tried to drift the same area Sunday, but Mother Nature was back to her ugly ways and he said that at times they had waves breaking over the transom. “We were surfing across the waves much too fast, but even at that we managed to catch two reds and several very nice trout,” reported Brian.
Not surprisingly, Johnny Cormier, fished his way right on through the wind and cold all week and told me Saturday morning that he hadn’t done much on trout, but was just hammering the redfish each day. He already had his limit when he called me on the water and said that they, too, were catching their fish in very shallow water on tails.
The cold fronts are arriving a little more frequently now and the surface temperatures are on a steady decline. Until they get really cold, that will only improve the bite in the river as well. Trey Smith got an unexpected shock last week while working on the local bass population.
“I had a 15-pound plus striper just crush a crankbait,” he said, “and I was sure it was an oversized red until I finally got the big fish next to the boat. “There are few places on the entire Gulf Coast where any cast with a tail or crankbait may produce a striper, red, trout, bass or flounder. This is the one time of the year when that all comes together for folks that can weather the weather!