Capt. Belcher recently took advantage of Mother Nature’s hospitality

Capt. Dickie Colburn – For The Record

The fisherman-friendly weather that Mother Nature served up this past week did not atone for the previous six months of challenging wind and rain she delivered on a daily basis, but it still enabled us to fish different areas and patterns that we have been unable to exploit for quite awhile.

As a matter of fact, I enjoyed leaving the boat launch conflicted as to where I would like to start first.I have grown very much accustomed to fishing where I can rather than where I would like to fish most days.The initial boat ride each morning has required far more clothing that you need later in the day, but that minor inconvenience was more welcomed than dreaded.

A steady north wind that would eventually completely die off later in the day combined with a strong enough outgoing tide to jerk a little water out of the surrounding marshes greatly expanded the playing field for area anglers.Easily the biggest surprise has been the gull activity both early and late in the day.

Chasing gulls and making them pay off has never been my strong suit, but it is that potential for putting several trout and reds in the box very quickly that demands at least a quick look on my part.Expecting a strike and hoping for a strike on every cast are two different things altogether and most of my clients are very much into non-stop action versus grinding away for larger trout.Not unlike most folks, they like to catch more than they like to fish!

The biggest problem with chasing gulls is that it never guarantees success and can be very frustrating.Aside from the fact that one day they are working everywhere you look only to be nowhere in sight the following morning, the fish under them can at times be very fickle as well.Once again, every other cast can get slammed by a keeper trout or slot redfish one day and the next day they will hit nothing you throw.

One day the birds hold over a single school of fish that you can ride until you have limited and the following day they leave before you can even lower the troll motor over the bow.Fortunately, more often than not, making the birds pay off for you simply requires a change in speed of retrieve or a color change in your bait selection.

If you are fishing with the kids you may wish to hang around when it is evident that most of the trout are small as it is the action that counts, but one or two small trout and I am gone.Even when a particular color or lure was exceptionally good the previous day, we fish the entire water column with different colors and retrieves prior to giving up on a group of active gulls.

I recently scouted with Capt. Belcher for an upcoming trip and flock after flock of gulls yielded nothing until I made a long cast with a five inch tail and let it settle to the bottom without ever jigging it the first time.Much to our delight, a slot redfish picked it up and it was game on.We back tracked and fished some of the flocks that had produced nothing on the first pass only to catch redfish under them fishing the same technique.

At least for me, the exploring process is best achieved by rigging one client with a tail under a cork that will stay in the top column of water while another client fishes deeper with the same tail on a conventional jig head.Rigging the tail with the lightest head that you can throw an adequate distance even in the wind will always produce more bites as it sinks through the water column much slower.Length of tail can occasionally make a difference as well, but keeping your lure in the strike zone and speed of retrieve are always critical factors.

There are also those days when, regardless of water clarity, the fish will hit any color, but never doubt the fact that color can make a huge difference.For the most part, deciding on a translucent or opaque color is sufficient, but there are those days when roach is better than red shad or avocado-red flake is more productive than glow-chartreuse.Thus the reason for carrying an arsenal of different colored tails that would shrink-wrap the entire boat should it catch on fire!

Last, but not least, while on the subject of harassing the gulls…..take advantage of your GPS to extend this bite.When you are on a group of gulls that are working over solid fish simply mark the spot and keep fishing.When the birds cease to work and they will, return to drift those spots and you will be surprised how many times you find the fish in that same area.

That just beats the heck out of racing the armada to a single bird in hopes of one more bite for the day!