Colburn: Less wind, more rain welcomed
I found it ironic that we finally got some rain two days in a row and the number one question amongst my e-mails was, “Is this going to mess up the fishing?”The truth of the matter is that the lack of rain has had a far more profound long term effect on the fishing than too much rain ever could!
I really thought we had turned the corner the first part of last week when we were greeted each morning with a cool northeast wind and flocks of gulls finally patrolling the open lake. Limits of trout on a variety of lures and schooling redfish were the norm for a whopping two days in a row!
That hopeful assumption was blown away Wednesday afternoon, however, as the wind swung around to the south and there was hell to pay for the remainder of the week. Not only did it blow as hard as it did all spring, it howled both day and night. The big incoming tides coupled with steady gusts that starched area flags have once again stacked the water up in the bayous and flooded the surrounding marshes.
Even the reasonably consistent bite that has held up over the past month tapered off as much of the bait has once again retreated into the marshes. While we struggled to re-establish our deep water bite on both trout and reds, at least one local angler was limiting on redfish every afternoon fishing bulkheads on Cow bayou with a quarter ounce buzz bait. There is nothing quite like discovering that you are 180 degrees off what is working the best.
He said that he could catch more fish swimming a small crank bait or tube jig through the flooded grass, but the slot fish were hanging around hard structure. He also added that any time he found small finger mullet on the surface he caught larger fish.
Most of the local fishermen that are hiding from the wind in Black’s Bayou are not overjoyed with the high water either. The gulls were just starting to work over shrimp earlier in the week and there were plenty of small trout and reds to be caught. The high water, pressure from more anglers seeking refuge from the wind, and the daily shrimper and crabber traffic make it difficult to put together a consistent pattern.
We may or may not get more rain in the near future, but I have to believe that we will at least see a cold front or two dip this far south before Christmas. As far back as I care to recall, that weather phenomenon is usually ushered in on an accelerated north wind. Quite often it blows much harder initially than we would like, but it is the end result that puts a smile on the faces of local anglers. Less water in the marshes force the shrimp and bait fish into the lake and lower surface temperatures extend the bite on the shallow flats.
Let’s hope that cooler days and light rains on a more frequent basis are part of our immediate future and we all do more catching than fishing. If the winds lay down this may prove to be the best week of catching in quite a while. I look for the patterns to change a little, but the bite under the gulls should pick right back up.
I am going to bypass wearing out “What to fish with” and the “ethics of sharing a flock of gulls” to share something that will help you better exploit a school of feeding trout this fall. When you pull up to a flock and catch that first fish, drop a marker buoy on the spot.
If you quickly catch one or two more fish anchor the boat and continue to work the area even though the birds have broken up. Depending on the depth of the water, a Power Pole is the ultimate tool, but a Stake Out Stick or even a conventional anchor will do the job.
It is not at all unusual to continue to catch solid fish well after the birds and other boats roar out of sight. If the bite slows down, pick up the anchor, but not your buoy. It can be invaluable in the event that you do not see another flock of gulls nearby as you know that your school of fish hasn’t moved far.
The exception to this approach is anytime the shrimp are skipping across the surface and there are no other boats or birds in the area. That doesn’t happen often enough, but when it does, you want to be able to quietly follow them on your troll motor. Dropping a marker buoy is still not a bad idea as those fish are there even if they are not chasing their next meal to the surface and it helps to have a reference point.
Writing your name and phone number on your buoy at least gives you a chance of recovering it should you lose sight of it in the whitecaps or just get excited and run off and leave it. Give this a try and you will return to the dock with more fish and gas at the end of the day!