I had clients call last week to say they would have to postpone their fishing trip this week, as they were still without electricity following Gustav’s arrival. We all remember the misery associated with living without electricity for an extended period of time following Rita and I felt a little guilty after complaining about the minor inconveniences we experienced with the near miss.

At this point, we are all watching Ike as it moves into the Gulf. Hopefully, it will weaken before making landfall where ever that may be.

While on the subject of things that negatively impact area fishing, I also learned last week that the pipeline work on the river will take longer than expected. A considerable amount of the pipe already in place failed inspection and will have to be replaced. That was not good news for the river fishing, but the alternative could have been much worse!

The good news is that Ike should be the last hurricane we have to fear this year and each new cold front will improve the fishing conditions. As the surface temperature starts to drop, the fish will spend even more time in the shallow water, making them much easier to locate.

The north wind flattened out the surf last week and a number of local anglers took advantage of the cooler mornings. The jetty fishermen had already been catching trout on crankbaits and soft plastics, but the bite in the surf was a bonus usually reserved for lower coast anglers. They not only caught good numbers, but trout up to six pounds on topwaters and 52M MirrOlures as well.

Even with the fantastic conditions the week prior to Gustav, we still were not catching trout in the lake. We were seeing a lot of bait and it was obvious that we were very close to enjoying an easy bite under the gulls, but the storm surge and eventual runoff put an end to that anticipated action.

It also slowed the phenomenal redfish bite that we had going, but it did not completely shut it down. We had been taking advantage of tide changes and doing very well around marsh drains, points on the river, and the mouths of the bayous. We initially found our fish with small mullet and shad, but soon discovered that Hoginars, BLURP, GULP, and swim baits worked just as well!

The salinity level in the lake is still good and the water clarity is not that bad in the lake or the river, but the change in conditions was enough to move the redfish. I believe that their food source relocated and they followed the buffet as we are still catching fish in the same areas, but the numbers are not there.

If you do have an opportunity to fish this week, depending on Ike’s trek across the Gulf, I would still recommend checking the areas already mentioned as the fish that we had been catching were ahead of schedule anyway. If they do not show up, my Plan B will be to fish much deeper as the bait fish may be holding deeper due to all of the runoff.

If you just cannot stand the idea of hunting fish in deeper water, there are still lots of redfish holding up in backwater areas like Keith Lake and Bessie Heights. You have to know your way around in order to return with most of your lower unit, but that bite has recovered much faster than any of the deeper water venues.

We caught worlds of redfish for years fishing Texas rigged worms in the river and bayous, but seldom if ever caught any good trout. As the trout bite improved in these areas, we left the plastic worm at home and relied on more conventional saltwater plastics and hard baits.

I mention this only because I have recently had clients do well fishing the scented plastics like BLURP and GULP on a Carolina rig. Reds, flounder and specks tend to track the scented plastics as if they were live bait and the Carolina rig is more forgiving when crawled through rocks and submerged debris. You can lose a lot of jig heads in a hurry bumping bottom with an exposed hook!

When fishing soft plastics I also prefer to fish a three or four-inch shad with a paddle tail because of the vibration factor, but I get more mileage out of a shrimp style body when fishing with the scented plastics. Color is an additional factor to be considered, but I think the scent factor is more important than vibration. I can bite the head off the shrimp body and continue fishing with the same lure long after the shad-type body is history.

Let’s hope that we fare as well as we did with Gustav and the easiest fishing of the year is right around the corner. If it doesn’t work that way, move your family out of harm’s way and and we will fish another day!