Redfish lead the charge into spring
Just about any Texas fisherman who ever wet a line knows that the spring is full of many things, most of which fall into the category of uncertainty and unpredictably. The all time #1 villain is the weather man and his friend the marine forecast, aka “that #$%@ wind”! For plenty of us who take advantage of every season the waders that were used during duck hunts have become your best friend as the gears switch in favor of chasing trophy trout in 60 plus degree water.
All but the most hard core of anglers routinely shun the thought of winter or early spring fishing in favor of warmer environments until the mercury creeps up slightly and the first warm weekend has them scrambling for boats, gear, and a spot at the local launch.
Little do most of them know that a few really dedicated anglers spent some less than perfect days on the water doing some reconnaissance in preparation for the warmer days that will inevitably come. The super low tides of winter offer up a great opportunity to find structure that under normal circumstances go unnoticed and many times un-fished.
Several of my last trips on the water have been solo adventures without a fishing rod and accompanied only by my 2nd best “girl”, a black lab named Sally and my binoculars. I truly love these days because it helps me switch gears from ducks to fish without missing either one. March and April offer some of the best opportunities to see ducks in their full plumage as they make their way back north. The Blue winged teal migrating back from Mexico are usually the stars of the show, especially when I’m scouting the marshes of Sabine and Calcasieu for redfish. The small groups of birds work low and fly thru the maze of islands like little jet fighters making just as much noise from their wings as they do with their calls. The drakes are painted up like a brand new decoy and easily identifiable, they drive my dog nuts because she keeps waiting for a shotgun to go off and the opportunity to go fetch one. To see birds in the air and fish in the water at the same time is what really gets me going, the best of both worlds right there in front of you.
On one such recent outing I made a loop through some of the marsh ponds that I hunted this past season. On my way in I passed a line of waders standing like solitary figures on an expansive flat, I’m sure we both were thinking “what’s that idiot doing out here” as the day was less than “bluebird beach” weather. I swung my skiff wide of their position and made my way into the marsh and some much more comfortable surroundings. The lake that was churned up from wind and runoff gave way to beautiful clear water and a slight ripple. I sat the skiff down off of plane and gave the pond a chance to settle as I climbed up on the platform. Much to my surprise a defined group of redfish were milling about as if they had no idea a visitor had made his way into their pond. I pushed up on the pod of fish and just watched for a few moments until they made their way down the pond and eventually swam away from where I was. The rest of the afternoon was more of the same, small groups of fish just relaxed and enjoying small crabs and a few finger mullet.
For an early spring day it was an eye opener, we normally don’t see fish like that until late April or May. Calcasieu will crank up a little earlier than Sabine on normal years but it appears that both may be a little ahead of schedule. Those waders I told you about will certainly vouch for the fact the winter pattern for redfish has been about as constant as you could ever hope for, in fact the numbers of redfish in both bays appear to be as high as anyone can ever remember. The fish are all really healthy and seem to be almost “cookie cutter” identical, lots of fish on the low end of the slot with a nice mix of oversized fish. The upcoming spring and summer months could be memorable ones for local and out of town fishermen alike. After seeing what the marshes look like and having had some excellent days wading this year I have a great feeling about what is in store for us no doubt.
Quality redfish like this one caught by Art Wright are prowling the shorelines and marshes of both Sabine and Calcasieu. RECORD PHOTO: Chuck Uzzle