For The Record – Capt. Dickie Colburn

After all but striking out the previous day in perfect conditions, I was less than excited about the prospect of catching fish the following day.I was even less excited when I got home and saw the miserable weather forecast.

A quick courteousy phone call to inform my clients as to how tough it had been and discuss the approaching storms for the following day proved to be a waste of time.“We are coming anyway,” was not the response I was hoping for.“We’ve seen these forecasts for years and more often than not it turns out to be a perfect day!”

Their only concession was that they would drive in that morning and look at the weather before deciding to cancel or fish.If you live in Houston or Lafayette, those are long drives just to turn around and return home without ever wetting a hook.

Even if you live nearby and the radar pretty much supported the weatherman’s guess the night before, I can’t see the wisdom of rolling out of bed at 4:00 a.m. and driving to the launch to make a final decision. I have indeed seen them miss a forecast more than once, but they have to miss a lot of unexpected good days to make up for the one bad one they get right!

Sure enough, light drizzle rather than the predicted frog strangler greeted us the following morning and they were congratulating each other on the decision to drive down as we pulled away from the dock.Also, much to my surprise, we boated two redfish and six trout in the first hour and all was good.

By the time I could make a short run to start another drift, however, the white plumes of smoke were much brighter framed against the black skies on the west side of the lake.The light drizzle was now a light rain and the wind was picking up as well.

In spite of quickly catching two more trout, I suggested that one of my fishermen check the weather on his phone as it looked to me that we had already stayed too long. “According to the radar it looks like that front is still about two or three hours away,” he gleefully announced.

“Pt. Arthur is only five minutes away,” I replied, “and it is blacker than the inside of a cow in that direction right now.”I am amazed by the many capabilities of cell phones, but I can see what Mother Nature has parked in front of me and I don’t need a cell phone to tell me when I am getting wetter!

In spite of their pleadings to stay a little longer, I decided to run back to the landing.Unfortunately, we made it only as far as East Pass.We scrambled to pull up against a semi-protected shoreline and spent the next hour with our backs to the driving rain eating jerky and soggy kolaches.

When they were sufficiently soaked and shivering, we made the long slow ride back to the landing in a steady, but slightly lighter rain.I cleaned the fish while they dried off and it continued to rain well into the late afternoon.In truth, we did far better than I expected, but the lesson painfully reiterated was “Right or wrong….make your decision the night before and stick with it.”

Easily, the most difficult aspect of locating and catching trout when drifting a shallow flat is determining how deep they are holding.Neither the size nor the color of a lure are nearly as important. More than once, over the past month we have shared a flat with several other boats due to the wind.On every occasion, some caught at least a few fish while everyone else struggled.

Size and color can make a big difference once you locate the fish, but too many times I have been guilty of leaving an area before checking different depths.To further complicate the problem, trout are notoriously bad about feeding only in the top column of deeper water!

A big tide change, especially when the wind has silted up an area, can produce a distinct color change that also makes things a little easier when fishing open water.If the color change is in the depth of water that has been the most productive, treat it just like a shoreline and work the break.It is not unusual for the trout to hide in the first two or three feet of dirtier water and ambush bait fish in the clearer water.

There is nothing easy about chasing trout in the winter!