Dress Right and Stay Awhile
“There is nothing like trying to dress right for a day of fishing on Sabine Lake in March”, barked Tom Pierce while unloading yet another sack of snacks out of the back of his SUV.“It’s drizzling rain, forty-five degrees and you would think that I am dressed just right with a layer of Under Armor cold gear, jeans, a hoodie and my new Frogg Toggs pilot rain suit.”
“That sounds like you got it right today Mr. Perfect,” joked his wife, Della, as she cinched the draw string on her rain jacket hood a little tighter and slid in behind the leaning post for that first chilly boat ride of the morning.“What she doesn’t understand,” he countered, “is that we might be down to shorts and sunglasses by noon and looking for some place to stuff all of these extra clothes.”
Tom was right on the money with his assessment of our weather this time of the year.The only exception is that you may or may not need your sunglasses, but don’t count on having to peel off any of that extra clothing while sitting in the stands at a high school track meet or baseball game in March or early April!
From a fishing standpoint, however, those warmer afternoons are the reason many dedicated big trout purists wait out lunch rather than an early morning breakfast prior to ever leaving the house.They know that even a modest five degree rise in the surface temperature combined with a steady incoming tide has the potential to ignite the bite of a lifetime.
Maximizing that potential, however, still has far more to do with your ability to read water and choice of lures than how you dress or the late lunch. The shortcut to finding a trout of your dreams is locating active bait fish in less than five or six feet of water.Any mullet simply loping across the surface is worth checking out, but schools of small skittish mullet or a number of singles in a relatively small area deserves more than a cast or two.
Bait fish rather than shrimp are the main course this time of the year and while the trout and redfish may not be actively hustling them at that moment, they are not far behind.If there is any kind of different structure in the area like scattered shell or an abrupt change in depth….so much the better.Eliminating fishless water is the name of the game and targeting these structure changes does just that.
If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to endure enough of this crazy weather you will occasionally be blessed with a handful of days when virtually any lure you tie on will catch fish.Those days, regardless of how beneficial the weather conditions may be, however, are few and far between.More often than not, success requires experimenting with not only color, but speed of retrieve.
There is no “always” when ferreting out big trout in less than five or six feet of water, but the longer your lure hovers in that top column of water before sinking to the bottom….. the better your chances of enticing a strike.I catch very few really big trout this time of the year bumping a tail or anything else across the bottom.That is not to imply that your favorite five inch tail is a poor choice.
One of the best “big trout” fishermen I have ever shared a boat with fished tails and nothing else 365 days a year and I never fished another lure that promptedhim to consider changing.He fished only the longer five inch tails, even when they weren’t that popular, but the secret to his success was that he would swim them on a steady retrieve when that wasn’t popular either.
More importantly, he had confidence in the tail and he never rigged it on anything heavier than a 1/8^th ounce jig head to ensure the slower fall.While I will continue to throw everything from topwaters to mullet imitations, I truly believe that a five inch tail in the right color will fool trout when nothing else will.My boat would weigh a lot less if I could fully commit to that belief!
The mental discipline to stay put when you feel all of the signs are right, but you are not catching fish, will also serve you well in your quest to dupe a trophy.Continue to change lures, colors or retrieves, but stay the course.I don’t know a single early spring trout fishermen that won’t tell you that on more trips than not, the best bite of the day didn’t light off until just before dark.
Only last week, we were invited to share a spot where the host had caught two trout in excess of nine pounds the day before.We failed to get a strike for the better part of two hours and left him to check out another area.When we started catching two to four pound trout hand over fish an hour later we called him and told him where we were.
He declined the invitation even though he still hadn’t caught a big trout.When we arrived back at the landing well after dark, however, he had six solid keepers in the box and pictures on his phone of two more over eight pounds that he released!
The bottom line is take advantage of the warmer hours, commit to a promising area and stay late if you want to catch a big trout.A few extra clothes for the ride back might come in handy as well!
Photo – Capt. Belcher took advantage of a warmer afternoon.