Full limits of Redfish came to hand for our guests over the weekend with Capt. Doug looking for Trout early to find concentrations on a feeding frenzy but lacking any size. Winds through the weekend had folks penned up in fishable waters which may or may not have been "fishy waters". That's a "condition of late Winter/early Spring for sure.
Some years ago I headed out with some guests and the winds were cranking. As I entered the back lakes there was a boat fishing every location that I had ever caught a fish as well as plenty in locations that I hadn't gotten around to fishing. What I remember about that day was it was "the first day I'd ever seen anything quite like it". When people get the urge to fish during the Spring, harsh conditions will often conentrate the masses in an untenable situation.
Just the other day I had just the opposite happen. I was fishing off The Lane on a Sunday and entered the parking lot at the boat ramp and the only two vehicles in the parking lot were mine and that of Capt. Doug. Elevated wind forecasts had evidently "intimidated" folks into thinking about doing something other than fishing. In this business, there isn't any room for "intimidation", just creativity in dealing with Mother Nature.
Big winds in our area create a lot of heavy stringers and fish boxes. Back Lake environs, shallow protected bays and the likes make this stretch of the Texas Coast much different from some others with less protected water. Gusting Gulf breezes often times will ignite a Trout and Redfish bite that has produced a lot of memories over the years. Interestingly, the feeding frenzy often tends to deminish as winds back down. Nothing makes me more curious about potential challenges than hitting the water a couple of days after a strong cold front amidst light winds and calm waters. Big Trout along with schools of Redfish will often find themselves cruising windward shorelines in pursuit of bait pods which have chosen to locate themselves in the more turbid windward areas. Big winds over grass beds are often beneficial depending upon direction and velocity. There are times when velocities can reach a direction and speed where it will actually blow the waters clear in a shallow environ. This can present some problems that may take a few years to figure out how to "fish through". Or, you can read further. After a great day with some guests on Saturday, Sunday found me smack dab in the middle of these conditions. I pretty quickly knew something was off Sunday morning. Water levels had fallen slightly (with not much water to give) and a lot of the back flats were clearing. The fish were scattered and fairly unresponsive. Much of the situation I found myself in had to do with wind direction and velocity, 120 and pumping.
Years ago, I learned that even the smallest patch of off color water in this situation would have some relevance in fishing out of it. Small islands would be surround by clear water but there might be a blow of off color water coming off one edge or the other. Inspecting this turbid water found it to be holding bait and more importantly, fish. You might be surprised how many fish will locate themselves in a 10 yard wide and 30 yard long blow of milky water when the broader waters are blown clear.
Things were looking pretty bleak until I came across a pocket of offcolor water in a deeper lake that erupted with mushroom shaped mud stirs as I approached. I don't know how concentrated the fish were but I can tell you it looked good but produced modestly with a single Redfish to 26" and a couple of Black Drum. Another day, different conditions, this might have been a "smoke pole". We pressed on and continued working with decent concentrations of fish to 27". It was a hard pressed fight with some satisfaction as full limits came to hand. Nothing about the days feeding pattern resembled anything close to that experienced on Saturday. That serves as a reminder that fish "have fins and will use them". They also have a mouth that sometimes doesn't open easily.
We made the cover of Airboating Magazine for the March/April issue. Pictured is Mr. SKipper Smith showing off an upper slot Redfish taken on a Cast & Blast trip with us this January aboard our Air Ranger airboat from American Airboats.
Good luck in your fishing and remember to keep an eye on the weather as we move into Spring. We've still got some surprises coming out of the North and that can make for a rough day on the water if you aren't prepared for it.
Capt. Kris Kelley