We have all had the perfect conditions not pay dividends, everything seems to be right but the results just don’t show anything for the effort. This scenario plays itself out many times over during an angler’s career, especially in the summer. During extended periods when rain and runoff get scarce and the water clarity gets so good it borders on ridiculous many fishermen have a hard time catching fish. Upper coast anglers especially struggle with these conditions because they are not anywhere close to normal for the water we fish. In situations like these it pays to down size your offerings, smaller baits are often just the ticket to get fish to bite.

Fly fishermen for years have understood this concept better than anyone; after all they are the folks who patterned the phrase “match the hatch”.  In the early part of the summer the finfish like shad and pogies will be smaller than during the late summer and early fall. The incredible population of this small baitfish is what makes the predator fish like trout and redfish so thick in our part of the world. Lower coast venues don’t have anywhere near the populations of shad that Sabine and Calcasieu possess so understanding and knowing the size of this baitfish can be critical to getting a bite.  On more than one occasion I have seen first hand what happens when you down size just a little and make that perfect adjustment. The fish seem to get locked in and all those near misses become bone jarring strikes.

For the angler who desires to catch a little bit of everything, big fish and numbers, the junior sized plugs like the Mirr-o-lure She Dog, She Pup and Rapala Skitterwalk Junior are extremely tough to beat. The smaller profile on these plugs will catch more fish in clear water on a day to day basis than just about anything else this side of a bait stand. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife surveys of stomach contents from both speckled trout and redfish the average size food found in these fish was 3 inches long. Sure trout and reds will eat bigger offerings, but they rarely turn down that size bait when they a get a chance. For my own personal preference I would rather throw the smaller plugs, they seem to give me better results all the way around on both numbers and big fish. If you really think about it throwing the smaller plugs makes plenty of sense, you can easily throw a bait that’s too big but it’s tough to throw one that’s too small.

On a recent trip I put the small topwater theory to work while fishing with 3 other clients aboard my boat. Each angler was armed with a topwater plug, 2 with larger bodied plugs like Super Spooks and He-Dogs and 1 other along with myself throwing Spook Jr’s and She Pups. Conditions were perfect and the fish cooperated as we ran our own little “science experiment” so to speak. The smaller plugs really did a number on both the better trout and redfish as well. The percentage of hook ups versus strikes was decidedly in favor of the smaller baits as well. There were plenty of fish to go around and even the big blow ups and misses were a treat. In the end there was no doubt the smaller sized topwaters were the perfect offering.

The clear water small plug presentations that really shine on the lower coast can be used effectively on any body of water. On Sabine or Calcasieu during the summer months when the trout are shadowing big schools of shad you can bet the smaller plugs are going to produce. I have seen fishermen who just took their offerings and scaled them down one size literally save fishing trips. Back off the big plugs and get small if you want to really put the odds in your favor this summer.