Monday, February 04, 2002

Wade Fishing Artificial Lures, Port O'Connor

Saturday

This latest little cold front just won’t let up and it looks like Mother Nature is going to dump the bucket on us for the next couple of days. Despite the nagging cold and wind, fishing has been a lot of fun here lately. Saturday, I welcomed Mr. Bryan Lynn and guest for a return trip from Houston. With morning temperatures well into the low 40’s since Thursday afternoon, I made the decision to leave in the dark Saturday morning. The ride was pretty cold and blustery but predictably, a few of the fish had fallen off the flats into deeper holes and guts which made for nice action. The fish were a little color sensitive and I found the best bite to be on purple/flake chart Assassins with 1/8 oz. jig heads. The clients caught their legal limit of Redfish and 1 Flounder. Size was smaller than expected but they ranged from a little over 20” to 24”. Trout action was pretty slow as the ENE wind built all morning.

Sunday

I welcomed Mr. Dave Hagen and guest Steve in from Fla. The balmy and sunny conditions they departed in were a far sight from the cold and dreary conditions encountered early Sunday morning. Things looked to improve weather wise but just as quickly as the sun came out, a slate grey sky took over the the cold east wind never let up the remainder of the day. The boys had grabbed the long rods to “bull whip” some Texas Redfish into shape. With overcast skies and the nagging wind, sight fishing for Redfish was very difficult. Dave bent the long rod several times on undersize Redfish and Flounder using wine and rust colored Clouser and Seaducers with 1/64 oz. pinch weights to get the fly down. Our best option was to shoot for the deeper holes early as this is “close quarter” fishing. Unfortunately, the cloud cover Saturday night put a very mild warm up over the coast which put the fish more solidly on the flats. With off color water on the flats, drifting and sight casting were my least favorite option.

As we continued into the day, we picked up a Trout bite which was fairly aggressive but somewhat short-lived. The clients managed to catch half limits of 15-17” Trout switching to terminal tackle using pumpkin/chart Assassins and Kelley Wiggler paddle tails. Reading a building tide and plenty of water, I headed for the back lakes to find murky but fishable water. Shortly into the first drift, Steve hooked a Redfish right at 28” on a red shad Assassin. As we were dealing with the fish, I looked down at the water and noticed mud boil after mud boil blowing out from the edge of the boat. It looked like a pretty nice size group of Redfish. I eased the anchor into the water and we exited the boat. Dave stuck with the fly rod while Steve and I worked Assassins. In mud up to our shins we probed down wind of the boat. Steve managed to hook another 24” fish but Dave and I struck out. All in all, fishing has been productive and a lot of fun here lately. Fall will find Dave and Steve heading back this way for a Cast and Blast trip with their clients.

FISHING FOCUS

We are still two months away from any significant Spring tide and there will be many more low water days ahead of us. I will be concentrating on reading the water levels and keeping up with typical “fall out” and rising water patterns in coming weeks. As we move into the spawn, I look for fish to stage on shell. They will be trying to fatten up on the bait fish and other forage holding on this structure before moving to area sand and grass beds to lay their eggs. In this transition, I like to look for shell near sand and grass. My feeling is “if they aren’t on one, they’ll be on the other”. As the spawn progresses, it is not uncommon for our fish to be on sand/grass early, then falling off to deeper shell later in the morning. Understanding this “back and forth” movement or at least having the awareness of its possibility can provide insights into strategy for keeping you on the fish all day. Sometimes, a bad game plan is better than no game plan at all.

I’ll say it again, we have held a pretty good amount of bait in the bays this winter. Finding bait concentrations right now is paying off. I don’t expect this to change in coming weeks. In fact, barring any significant cooling trend, bait concentrations should begin to build. The First Chain of Islands (bordering Espiritu Santo and San Antonio Bay) and the Second Chain of Islands (bordering San Antonio/Ayres and Mesquite Bay) will be focal points during this time. Nearby shell reefs and deeper pads will also be staging points for fish in my opinion. When the shrimp start showing up in the bays, I look for slicking to be a “tell tale” indicator of their feeding presence.

Rattling cork shrimp will be an effective approach to these fish but rattling corks rigged with artificial lures like shrimp tails, sand eels, and paddle tails will likely out produce the natural bait. At least this has been my experience. The tough thing about shrimp, in my opinion, is that you cannot adjust its color for varying water qualities. This seems to give artificial lures a big plus in the (flexibility) column.

COASTAL NEWS

I would like to welcome American Rodsmiths to the list of Coastal Waterfowl sponsors.
I will be at the 27th Annual Dave Holder Fishing Show the end of this month at the George R. Brown Convention center February 26th through March 3nd. I will be in Booth #618 which is on the outside isle to the right as you walk in the entrance doors. This show really kicks off the Spring fishing season. Come by and “lets talk fishing”. We will have the books on hand to get your choice of available dates. If you want to BEAT THE SHOW BOOKING RUSH, give me a call and we can go over open dates at this time. Book your trips between now and February 25th and I’ll throw in FREE LODGING.

Bowed-Up!


Capt. Kris Kelley

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