Monday, March 10, 2003

Cold Fronts, Port O'Connor Fishing

I’ve heard it said that Trout fishing is a whole lot better when the water temperatures are over 60 degrees. We know what a warm up will do for a topwater bite. On Wednesday March 5th, I welcomed Steve Fowler in for a couple of days of fishing. We thrashed the water pretty hard early with little to show for the effort. Water temperature started out around the low to mid 50’s. Around 4:00, we slid onto mud and grass in about knee deep water and split up. We both had numerous blow-ups initially and managed a fair number of hook-ups on average fish with several misses. As we pressed on through the afternoon, the wind began to shift from about 150 to 270 degrees as this latest front came in. Winds pushed up to about 15 knots gusting to 20 and it packed a chill. As it turned out, water temperature continued to rise from about the upper 50’s all the way into the lower 60’s peaking around 7 or 8:00 pm. The temperature continued to rise for several hours after the cold front arrived.

Our topwater bite peaked around 5:45 or 6:00pm and the fish got larger. We switched from black/chart She Dog’s to Rattling Rogue’s by Smithwyck in Halloween color. Working the shallow diving twitch bait over knee deep mud/grass is lethal on big fish this time of year. It’s hard to throw because it is so light but when the fish are on it, if you don’t have one it’s miserable. We ended up catching and releasing a number of fish pushing 24” with a good number of 20 to 22’s. It was interesting that our peak topwater action coincided with the warmest water temperatures of the day. We were fishing the last day of what had been a bull tide with a lot of water in the bays.

On March 6th, I welcomed Mr. Russell Dunnam who is the Texas Rep for Hell’s Bay Boatworks. Every know and then you get to do something different for a couple of days. Poling his 17.8 Professional all over the flats was interesting and my first attempt atop a poling platform for any length of time. Thursday was a blow off in the chill and overcast of the cold front. We drifted quite a bit with little results. On a few occasions I hoped out of the boat and managed to stick some Redfish and smaller Trout on top. All fish were released. Water temperatures were falling from the high 50’s into the upper 40’s. Tide was down about 8 inches.

On March 7th, we made the death run in the early fog and broke out the fly rod. Finally around 10 am the soup broke and it turned out nice. Pointing the boat to a concentration of Redfish spotted the day before proved a disappointment. Water temperatures ranged from 48 to 53 degrees and the water was clearing with little wind. With a pretty tight time schedule we worked the area over seeing few fish and very few targets. The fish had obviously fallen off the flats with the falling water temperature and dropping tide. I can’t say enough about the boat, however. I put it through the paces here with plenty of skinny water runs and shallow jump outs. I can’t say as I’ve ever driven a boat that will cut a 30 foot diameter circle at full speed without blowing out. Poling the boat was a dream as well. If fly fishing is your game, they’ve got the boat for you. Give him a call at 512-494-0661 or check them out on the web at www.hellsbayboatworks.com

On Saturday, March 8th, I welcomed Mr. Ron Dunkin and guests in for a day of Lure Fishing 101. Ron and the boys have done a lot of bait fishing with me but this day was about “taking it to the next level” and gaining some confidence in plastic. Water temperature was coming out of the low 50’s and peaked in the low to mid 60’s late. Losing water with the front, I felt like the larger fish I was on Wednesday wouldn’t be an option. So, I had to find new fish. We fished the south shoreline of ESB early with nothing and then made a bump to the First Chain of Islands. With little wind and zero tide movement initially, it was a grind. We got our two hours of sunshine before it turned off cloudy with a chilling east wind. As the tide started coming in, we managed to box a few fish. It seemed that everywhere we went, we caught a few fish. Most all were keepers with very few small Trout caught. This was unlike recent trips where there were a lot of small fish. We fished from about 8 am until 6pm with the most consistent action occurring during that 3 to 6 time frame. We ended a pretty long grind with half limits and no size. I think everyone was catching fish. I saw a decent box of Trout from a boat that drifted lures all day. My party for Sunday had fished Saturday ahead of our trip on their own. They managed half limits of small fish with a lot of undersized fish. Word out of Rockport was “crushing” with a lot of fish coming to the boards.

On Sunday, March 9th, I welcomed JM Green with his wife Susan and Ralph Cox and his wife Tammy. All of this crew are very experienced lure fishermen. Water temperatures ranged from the low 60’s to low 70’s. There didn’t seem to be much change in tide, the water is still out. Armed with Corky’s and plenty of Assassins we worked mud guts and shoreline breaks to deeper water. Our first stop yielded around 15 to 18 Trout to 17” fishing a mud gut trough on the break to deeper water. There were a ton of small Trout. We pulled off the gut and headed to a shoreline with a parallel wind. Ralph was first to hook-up on the break in belly button deep water. He was throwing a green/silver flash Dorky and working it slow on the bottom. Tammy and Susan were throwing Red Shad Assassins and hooking up at will. JM was also working a green Dorky and hooking up occasionally. We hit the shoreline around 1:00. We strung a few fish between 1:00 and 2pm. After 2, we started hitting larger Trout to 20” consistently in shallower water (around waist deep). We were pretty much “fished out” around 4pm. We left them biting with a total of 40 Trout to 20”. The “guides limit” was untouched.

I’d have to say that Sunday was the first and longest stretch of sunshine that I’ve fished in a month of Sunday’s! Warming water, to a point, seems to be a key focus for me at this time. Last year, I watched the water temperature shoot from the high 50’s into the 80’s the last two weeks of April with howling southwest winds at 90 plus degrees. That broke a month and a half long streak of tremendous success wade fishing with lures. This may be the year for a gradual warming. I’d love to see it hovering around the low 70’s into about May! Needless to say, NOW IS THE TIME TO GET ON THE WATER.

COASTAL NEWS

If you would like to try a “hands on” introduction to wade fishing with lures, give me a call. If you are an experienced lure fisherman wanting to look at some “new fish”, I’d like to have your business. Book a lure fishing trip through April and I’ll throw in free lodging! Now is definitely the time to consider April and May dates.

Bowed-Up!


Capt. Kris Kelley
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