The wade fishing has been a little slow for me thus far, but I may have discovered a new technique while wading on Calcasieu last week that was surprisingly effective. When nothing you have tried works, simply toss your hat in the air and cast your lure in the general vicinity.

That isn’t exactly how it went, but pretty darn close. After an hour of wearing out a small stretch of shell with several different lures and no positive results, I dug out the cell phone to get my non-wading friends to come pick me up. When I turned my head to better hear the phone, a stiff east wind sent my cap skipping across the water.

Realizing that I would now not only have to endure their harassing for having insisted on wading, but have to ask them to retrieve my cap as well, I quickly tied on a top water plug hoping to snag it before it drifted out of reach. I was both pleased and surprised when my first cast was on target and the braided line draped across the bill of the cap.

After slowly retrieving the slack line, the lure was approaching the cap when it disappeared in a salty whirlpool. A fat 4-pound trout bolted off in the opposite direction with the lure in her mouth and rescuing the cap was suddenly no longer important. By the time I landed the fish, the cap was well out of range, but I made another cast in the same direction anyway.
For the next fifteen or twenty minutes I caught or missed a trout on virtually every cast. This unexpected bonanza was taking place in the exact opposite direction that I had been casting for the previous hour. When my non-wading friends swung back to pick me up they were so surprised by the fish on the stringer that they tracked down my hat without questioning how it got away.

So, now you know one more secret the veteran guides use to find fish when the bite is tough. A non-fisherman would probably write this off as blind luck, but I at least selected the right color lure and continued casting in the same direction after catching that first trout. Okay……..was blind luck!

We are still catching redfish all the way from I-10 to Blue Buck Point when the wind allows, but the improving bite that I have not been able to really capitalize on of late is the striper bite. Chuck wrote a timely piece on that bite last week, but the one thing he failed to mention was how unpredictable this bite can be.

Stripers are the ultimate bonus for fishermen willing to endure a little discomfort this time of the year. The window of opportunity is very brief and every day that you fail to spend a little time hunting them is a lost day that you cannot make up later in the year.
There is a small contingent of knowledgeable river fishermen that focus on a coveted few spots with a decent success ratio once the powerful ghosts show up, but even they have to do their homework in order to catch them with any consistency. I have caught stripers all the way from the I-10 Bridge to East Pass, but my most reliable bite has always taken place in the river rather than the ICW.

If I did not guide for a living I would spend at least an hour or two every trip fishing for them this time of the year. More specifically, I would spend the first and last hour of daylight each day. Because they are so unpredictable, however, I cannot expect paying customers that drive in from Houston and beyond to gamble on such an iffy proposition and my window of opportunity slams shut all too quickly.

While we occasionally catch them on everything from top water lures to plastic tails (Ross Smith recently duped a 15-pound plus striper with a crank bait) the most effective lure has to be the Hoginar. Unless you are lucky enough to have a school of stripers go on a surface feeding binge within casting range, your best bet is bouncing the bladed bait off the bottom in deeper water.

Fortunately, that same technique produces excellent catches of redfish as well and striper hunting is sometimes not such an “all or nothing” deal. Any local angler that has ever crawled a Hoginar across the bottom around the mouth of Burton’s or the DuPont Outfall this time of the year knows that redfish and stripers often share the same hunting grounds.
The fact that you could possibly catch everything from a state record flounder to a 30 pound striper with the same lure on consecutive casts without even moving the boat is remarkable. As fishermen, we are truly blessed to be surrounded by such an incredible resource. I truly hope that you will have more opportunities to enjoy this little slice of heaven in 2011 and make an effort to share it with a youngster.

Karen and I wish each of you a wonderful New Year!