Location, technique equal catching
“I am afraid that I am about to lose another one of your lures,” said Alex Meters, as his rod was already arching against a steadily tightening line and he still had not attempted to set the hook out of fear of hanging up.
His partner, Jonathan, had already caught and released two trout over 26-inches and we were determined to get Alex a shot a big fish. In response to the urging of his partner, he finally attempted to set the hook only to confirm his earlier speculation. He dejectedly reeled in the broken line and declared, “I just can’t do this!”
While the technique was yielding bragging size trout, it was anything but easy to do. The wind was howling out of the southeast just prior to the arrival of another front while a strong outgoing tide was doing its best to suck the marshes dry. Those conditions just made it that much more difficult to detect a strike that was more akin to a subtle tap on the shoulder than the typical rod jolting assault of a big trout.
I still had six or seven Maniac Mullets left in my box, the lure the big fish seemed to want at the time, but Alex sheepishly admitted that he would prefer to try an easier pattern regardless of the size of the fish. We swapped the six and a half foot Laguna Wader II and Curado 50 that he was using for a 7-foot medium action spinning rod rigged with a 2500 series Shimano reel and changed the game plan.
We abandoned the productive deeper ledges on the ICW and moved to the shallow flats on the Louisiana shoreline. Alex proved to be much more adept at catching those trout as well as an occasional slot red by swimming a Flats Minnow over isolated shell pads. While the trout were smaller, it was a much easier program and fishing is always much more enjoyable when catching is involved!
The ability to locate fish is an important attribute for any fishing guide, but it is even more critical that he can locate fish that the clients can catch. A live bait bite is obviously more user friendly, but any time you are relying on artificial lures to get the job done you have to tailor the trip to the abilities of the fishermen. Add to that the fact that some folks want to catch a fish every cast regardless of species or size while others are driven to look for that one big bite and in many cases you are forced to eliminate a productive pattern before you ever leave the dock.
Never hire a guide without telling him what your wishes are before hand as well as the skill level of each member of your party. While I can usually have even first time anglers casting and retrieving well enough with a properly matched spinning combination in just a few minutes, I am still obligated to tell a potential client in advance if I am not on a pattern that he may wish to fish.
Most of the guides that I know provide quality tackle, but you have to be honest with them when they ask you what type of rod and reel you are most comfortable with.“I have never thrown one of those,” is not a declaration that any guide wants to hear once the boat leaves the dock.
I recently fished with a Dad and his two young sons and he was quick to point out on the phone that his boys had hunted but never fished much.“Not a problem,” I assured him. The following morning the ten-year old was casting into the trees across the bayou after only a few practice casts and his younger brother wasn’t far behind. Their dad was openly pleased with their newly acquired skills and was even happier when they were both catching fish on the first stop.
It wasn’t until the third time that I made a trip to the back of the boat to undo another spider web of line balled up in his rod guide that I realized that Dad had been talking on the phone while the casting lessons were taking place. He had been trying to cast all morning holding his reel upside down and reeling backwards. Yes….he failed to mention that he had only fished once or twice before as well.
It came as no surprise when I later learned that their Uncle Cecil had purchased the trip for them as an early Christmas present. It wasn’t until they were leaving that the oldest boy said that they were all going to fish with him in Rockport next week and he thought a practice trip with a guide in advance of the highly anticipated event might be a good idea.
The Dad eventually turned his reel over and matched his boys cast for cast and fish for fish for the remainder of the day.“Uncle Cecil will also be happy to know that the proud father called to tell me that he purchased three new spinning combos on the way home.
“Uncle Cecil…..your plan was successful and it will be “game on” in Rockport come Saturday morning!”