“Match the hatch” is a phrase we fishermen hear all to often, especially when targeting skinny water redfish on the Texas gulf coast in the early spring. Our fish are a bit picky during this time of the year as they transition from their winter homes, with lots of changes occurring around them. Water temps are rising, wind is going crazy, and plenty of fresh water is flowing into the bay from every river, creek, and stream that leads into the bays, due to the excessive amount of rain we receive this time of the year. There are also millions of little baitfish and shrimp hatching in the marsh, with most of these tiny creatures being no larger than your fingernail. With so many tiny meals that are easy to catch, you can expect shallow water reds to develop a little bit of tunnel vision when it comes to what they will and won’t eat.
With all of this in mind, I like to downgrade the size of my lure to better match the hatch during the months of April and May. Buggs Fishing Lures are my favorite lures when sight casting to spooky reds. These lures are tied like flies using strips of bunny fur and very small in size. Not only are they similar in size to the current bait, but they also make very little splash when coming in contact with the water.
This past weekend while fishing a small marsh lake with an average depth of 1 foot of water, I began blind casting my Bugg after seeing several signs of redfish along the shoreline. It didn’t take more than a few casts before I felt a hard thump, followed by a strong run with a couple dozen yards of drag being peeled off my reel. I knew I had a sold fish, but was surprised to net a 33” redfish after a good 15-minute battle.
I hopped out of the kayak for a quick photo and immediately sank to my thighs in the soft mud our marshes are full of. In water this shallow and mud this deep, kayaking is your only choice, with the Cuda 14 my weapon of choice.
Big baits don’t always catch the big fish. There are certain times of the year when smaller baits will put more fish in the boat and they are a lot of fun to throw. Next time you’re having trouble with getting a bite, downgrade the size of your bait and see if a lure with a smaller profile is what they are after.
Wind: 15 mph with Gusts to 20 mph
Weather: Cloudy skies with temps in the mid 70s
Bottom: Mud with occasional patches of shell
Depth: 1-2 feet deep in most areas
Reel: Shimano Citica
Kayak: Jackson Cuda 14
Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked