Straight down not all bad
The ultimatum I was served prior to leaving the dock was, “We’re into trying anything you want to do as long as I am sitting in my seat on the fifty yard line in Jasper at five o’clock.”Leland’s wife confirmed his demand with a nod of the head and we shoved off ten minutes ahead of official sunrise time.
Fortunately, I had a back-up plan that would only require netting a few shad and finger mullet, but the wind hadn’t kicked into full gear so I elected to swing for the fences on our first stop.
I lowered the troll motor on the fifteen foot break, handed both clients spinning rods rigged with four inch Sea Shads and instructed them to simply flip the bail and let their bait drop straight to the bottom.
We were talking about the bumper to bumper traffic climbing the Rainbow Bridge when Leland’s rod telegraphed the first strike of the morning.
The look on his face said, “I can’t believe I actually even got a bite doing this,” as I slipped the net under a skinny 17 inch trout.”His wife immediately followed suit with a gafftop that somehow made it into the boat and covered her new suede tennis shoe with slime.
With only a light incoming tide I was forced to rely on the troll motor much like strolling for crappie on Toledo Bend.
It wasn’t the best bite I have ever experienced, but we had six keeper trout, one slot red and one nice flounder in the box in the first thirty minutes.
“I can’t believe you call this fishing,” barked Leland while staring intently at the tip of his rod.“I ain’t even made a cast yet.” His wife, Carolyn Jo, took the liberty of calling his bluff when she stated in a matter of fact tone of voice, “This is something new for us, Honey. It’s called catching instead of fishing so quit teasing the man and keep your little plastic worm on the bottom like he says!”It is very seldom that I get a first mate and a client in the same package!
We kept two more trout before the wind made it too difficult to hold the boat over the schools of bait suspended at ten to twelve feet.
Before I cleaned their fish and got them on the road by 2:30, however, we continued to find scattered keeper trout and two more reds on similar breaks from the mouth of the Neches all the way to Adams bayou.
I tried a variety of baits while they did most of the damage with Sea Shads, Flats Minnows, three inch Usual Suspects and a smoke colored GULP Mantis Shrimp.
No single bait worked well enough to encourage everyone to fish with the same lure.
I did stick one very good fish that we never saw on a Maniac Mullet.
While you tend to feel as though you are dropping your lure in a small bucket in the middle of the ocean, this program can be very effective when everything else is covered up with boats or the wind is howling on the open lake.
The single greatest advantage our fishery provides is productive water that is somewhat wind proof.
When all else fails and the salinity is as high as it is right now, you can catch trout and redfish all the way to West Bluff on the Sabine river.
Hands down, if you aren’t trying to target only trophy trout with this program, the easiest way to locate the fish is to use live bait.
You can drift with the tide or the wind and hold over a spot with the troll motor once you get a bite, but I never drop anchor.
You can fish the same Carolina rig vertically and should you not get another bite pretty quickly keep moving.
We’ll cover this one more time before I get a pile of e-mails.
A Carolina rig consists of a foot or two length of 20 pound test mono to be used for a leader.
Attach a 2/0 or 3/0 Kahle hook to the terminal end and tie the other end to a barrel swivel.
Slide a worm weight or egg sinker that is just heavy enough to compensate for the tide on your main line and attach that to the other end of the swivel.
It is the same rigging that many dyed- in-the- wool salt water fishermen refer to as a fish finder rig.
We use 20 or 30 pound braid for our main line as the “no Stretch” factor detects even the most subtle of bites and you can free a higher number of unexpected hang ups.
I spend a lot of time with a casting rod in my hand, especially since Laguna incorporated the cyclone wrap on their Liquid series, but for this type fishing I prefer a 7-foot medium action spinning rod with a 2500 or 3000 series spinning reel.
That combination is far more forgiving when using braid and there is less stress on your wrist because the line never contacts the rod blank.
That’s what makes the cylone wrap so special for folks that prefer casting tackle.
They also like the fact that it enables you to darn near throw all the line off your reel with a topwater as well!
Once you have established some confidence in vertical jigging the breaks with live bait, switch to an artificial and you will catch fish faster than you ever thought possible.
As the water gets colder in the fall opt for an even larger lure like the Corky or Maniac Mullet and you may very well catch not only the largest trout of your life, but lots of them.
This technique is certainly not for everyone, but at the same time not everyone catches fish either.
Running the troll motor is also a whole lot cheaper than running the big engine and you may quickly discover that you have been over looking some pretty good fishing on your way to the lake!