Posts Tagged With: saltwater fishing

Blind Casting the Marsh with 20/20 Vision

As an avid shallow water angler, I enjoy spending the majority of my time sight casting to fish that I can see, instead of blind casting for the ones that I can’t. Since the first day I pitched my lure into the path of a visible fish, I have been hooked (pun intended). Being able to watch a large redfish as it slowly moves through the shallow water, seeing it pounce on my lure, and then getting to listen to the sweet music made by my line, as it gets ripped from my reel, is an experience that I never get tired of. When the tides are right, the water is clear, and the fish are cooperating, this is the style of fishing that I prefer over any other.

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However, things don’t always work out the way you’d liked. Sometimes the tides are going to run a little higher than predicted, which makes spotting fish more difficult. You’ll also have to deal with dirty water, fish that are laid up and not feeding, and even ones that spook easily. The hard truth is that you’re not always going to be able to sight cast them. In the event that you’re forced to spend your day blind casting, make the most of each cast by putting your lure where the fish should be.

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DSC_0118 copyPlenty of anglers out there view blind casting as a style of fishing that requires a little bit of skill and a whole lot of luck. In their mind, blind casting is about tossing your lure in every direction possible, with the only emphasis being, “cast as far as you can, to as many different spots as you can”. However, the more experienced angler knows better than to believe that. He doesn’t make a lot of “random” casts. Each cast he makes is to a targeted area for one specific reason or another. He doesn’t put a whole lot of stock in dumb luck, and instead believes that fish tend to hang out in certain areas for a number of reasons. With this in mind, you should constantly scan the water (and shoreline) for places that are more likely to hold fish than others, and make casting to those spots a priority.

Points

PointAny and all points along a shoreline are worth casting to. By points, I am referring to parts of the shoreline that extend out towards the open water or a sharp bend in the shoreline. A good point provides redfish with a great place to ambush bait as it passes by. While some points are better formed than others, all deserve a cast or two as you paddle/drift by them. As you approach the point, be sure to cast several yards past it and work your lure back across the tip. I normally try to make at least three cast at each point. One where my lure passes within a few yards off the point, one where it is 5-10 yards away, and another that is 10-15 yards off.

Coves

While points protrude out toward open water, coves do the exact opposite. They dip inland, forming small half circle pools along the shoreline that are normally a little shallower than the surrounding area. The combination of the shallow water and ability to trap bait makes a good cove the perfect spot for a group of redfish to feed. They can corral the bait towards the back of the cove, or slowly roam the area looking for something to munch on. These coves also provide redfish with a great place to hide from strong winds and choppy water as well.

Windblown Shorelines

DSC_0153 copyMany anglers overlook a good windblown shoreline because the location of it changes as the direction of the wind shifts. These shorelines are also difficult to fish since the wind is constantly pushing you towards the bank. However, a shoreline that is being repeatedly pounded by waves as a result of the wind, provides redfish with a great place to feed.   Baitfish and shrimp that are seeking shelter along the shoreline get pushed up against the bank, where they become disoriented as the waves crash down on them. As they struggle to regain their sense of direction, redfish are able to grab an easy meal. If you’ve ever wondered why a specific shoreline only holds fish on certain days, pay attention to the direction of the wind and see if a pattern develops.

Wind Protected Shorelines

While windblown shorelines have been known to produce a solid bite on many days, sometimes fish like to go the opposite route and hideout against the wind protected shoreline. These areas offer calmer water that will be much cleaner than the windblown side. The fact that the water near these shorelines has less chop and current, allows redfish to remain stationary and conserve energy. Windblown shorelines are great places to start when you get on the water. However, if you aren’t having much luck, don’t be afraid to change things up and give the wind protected side a try. 

Drains

image2Drains within a marsh are created when a channel connects one body of water to another or when a narrow portion of the water branches off of a main lake, only to eventually come to an end a short distance later. Depending on whether the tide is outgoing or incoming, current will flow through these areas. Redfish, trout, and flounder all take advantage of the bait that gets caught in the current, which makes a drain an outstanding place to fish. I like to start by fan casting the area about thirty yards before I reach the actual channel. As I enter the channel, I’ll fish it as well, often times bouncing a soft plastic along the bottom. Since water is constantly being forced through these channels, you can expect the majority of them to be a little deeper than the surrounding areas. As I exit the channel and enter the lake it connects to, I like to work the area about thirty yards out once again. 

Shell

shellOne of the most productive types structure to fish around along the upper Texas coast is a good patch of shell. Baitfish and shrimp love hanging around shell for the protection and food it supplies them with, which of course, makes it a great place for redfish to feed. One of the main things to keep in mind when fishing around shell, is that size is not always the most important thing. A small patch of shell the size of your kitchen table can sometimes hold fish just as well as a patch that’s the size of your house. A good pair of polarized sunglasses will allow you to see the shell, and where to cast without getting your lure hung up. Cast along the edge of the shell and try to keep your lure running parallel to it. Often time’s redfish will roam the edges where the drop off from the shell to the soft mud occurs.

The next time you’re faced with unfavorable conditions on the water, spend the day making the most of each cast by tossing your lure into high traffic areas. You might realize that a little bit of knowledge plays a key role in what was once referred to as “a lucky cast”.

If you’d like more detailed knowledge of the information listed above, Tobin’s DVD (Shallow Redfish) is a great resource to consider.  It’s about 2 hours in length and covers everything listed above, plus more.  I picked it up a few years ago and still pop it in every now and then to review things.  If you decide to purchase one of the DVDs, be sure to use the code “TAILTAILSIGNS” at checkout to save 10% off your total purchase.

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Topwater Lure Painting

 

 

I was going through my tackle box a few months ago and came across half a dozen she dogs and she pups that were on their last leg. Most of them had large chunks of paint that had chipped away and I could tell that I was needing to replace them. While I love throwing she dogs and she pups for redfish, they usually don’t last very long.  The paint always seems to start chipping away once a few good fish are caught and often times they will not last more than a  trip or two.  I hate throwing lures away so I started thinking about what I could do with them other than just getting rid of them. I grabbed a sheet of 60 grit sand paper from the tool box and decided to see if it would remove the remaining paint. With a little bit of work the paint came right off leaving a nice looking bone colored lure that I knew I could use. I followed the 60 grit up with some 320 grit to give it a smoother texture and then started working on the others. By the time I had finished, I was the owner of four bone colored she dogs/pups. While I liked the look of them, I didn’t really need four of the same color.  I decided to experiment with coloring them in a variety of different ways to see what I could come up with. I added a little epoxy once I was finished to make sure they were sealed properly.  The epoxy was clear and would protect them with from chipping or fading away like before.  It’s a fun rainy day project when you can’t get on the water to fish.  The great thing about it is that you can choose whatever color you want and you are only limited to what ever your imagination can come up with.

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Removing the Paint

 

The first thing you need to do is remove the hooks and split rings from the lure.  You’ll have a much easier time sanding paint away without having to worry about them.

Once the lure is hook free you’ll need some painters tape to protect the eyes.  The material the eyes are made of will scratch easily if sandpaper rubs across them so covering them with the tape will keep them from scaring during the sanding process.

Once the eyes are covered and the hooks and split rings have been taken off you are ready to remove the rest of the paint.  You’ll want to use the 60 grit sand paper first to remove the larger portions of paint that are still on the lure.  Working around the eyes can be a bit difficult so tearing the sand paper into small strips or folding it will help.  Be sure to work carefully around the eyes so that you do not scar them in the process.

Now that the majority of the paint has been removed you can follow up with the 320 grit paper to remove any small amount of paint that remains and also to give it a nice smooth texture.  You are now ready to apply your color or design to the lure.

 

Bone She Pup

 

This one was the easiest to create because once the paint had been removed you were done.  The base color used when the she dogs are created is a good looking bone color, so once you complete the steps above you are finished.  I did not coat this one with any epoxy because it would not have served much of a purpose.

 

Pink She Pup

 

To create the pink she pup I decided to give spray paint a try.  I bought a can of the brightest pink I could find and added a design to the side before applying the paint.  I took some painters tape and cut small strips from the roll and placed a long skinny strip down each side of the lure.  Then I cut a few smaller strips and placed them on top and bottom of the first strip angled back towards the tail end of the lure.  I repeated this process on both sides.

I taped up the eyes so that they would remain red and hung it in the garage with a small piece of cardboard behind it.  I sprayed the lure on all sides making sure all areas received an even shade of pink and let it set for the night.

The next day I removed the strips of tape which left small white designs down both sides of the lure.  I thought this would look better than a solid pink one.

I applied the epoxy and sprinkled some silver glitter on the lure while it was still wet.  The glitter stuck to the epoxy and after it had dried the finished product below is what I had.

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Sharpie She Pup

 

My next lure involved a fine point sharpie and a good amount of time and patience.  I drew nearly a thousand small circles all over this she dog to make them look like tiny scales.  I started at the back of the lure and began by drawing a line of circles towards the head.  I stopped when I reached the eye and began branching out in all directions by connecting each small circle with the one next to it.  It took about thirty minutes of work but when I had finished I liked how it looked.

I was about to apply the epoxy to seal the lure when I friend mentioned that even though I used a sharpie which has permanent ink, the chemicals in the epoxy might cause it to run a little.  He suggested using a paint pen next time which I plan on doing.  I didn’t have much of a choice since I had done all the work so I went ahead and applied the epoxy to it anyway.  While the marker did run a little, it didn’t completely destroy the design.  Instead, I went from a white lure with small black scales to a gray lure with small black scales.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but the end result still looked alright.

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American Flag She Dog

 

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This is by far my favorite lure that I have painted.  I used painters tape, finger nail polish, and small star stickers to create it.  I started off by wrapping a piece of the painters tape around the head of the lure going back behind the eye and stopping about a half an inch past the eye.  Once the head was protected I cut a few short but thin strips of tape and ran them back towards the back of the lure trying to keep them spaced apart evenly.

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I then took the red finger nail polish and painted the entire back end of the lure by covering the exposed areas of the lure and the thin strips of painters tape.  Finger nail polish dries fast so after 30 minutes I was able to remove the thin strips of tape which created the red and white portion of the flag.  I also removed the tape from the head of the lure and did the exact same thing to the back end of the lure.  I carefully wrapped the edge of the tape around the area I had just painted behind the eyes and covered the rest of the back end.  Now the only portion exposed was the head.  I took the small star stickers and carefully placed them all over the head of the lure.

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Once the eyes had been covered with the painters tape I began painting the head of the lure blue until the entire thing was coated, stars included.  I watched the lure closely as the finger nail polish dried and when it was nearly complete I used a pair of tweezers to carefully remove the stars.  I wasn’t sure how well they would come off once nail polish had completely dried and didn’t want to find out.  Once the stars were removed I let the head dry completely before removing all of the tape except for the eyes.  I hit it with a thin coat of the epoxy and the picture below is the finished project.

 

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Overslot Pods

This past Sunday I decided to make a long drive in order to avoid the Memorial Day Weekend crowds of Galveston. I was on the road around 3:30 am and launched my kayak at 6:00 am as the sunlight started to peak over the horizon. My goal was to locate some big marsh reds in case I decided to fish this area during the next LSKS. This was only my 2nd trip to this marsh so it was more of an exploratory trip than anything. With several square miles of available marsh to fish I decided to paddle a lot and fish a little when I spotted certain signs of fish. Temps were in the low 80s with a nice 10 mph breeze as I set off.

I entered by following a small channel that zigzagged back and forth for maybe half a mile before finally opening up into the first lake. I chose to fish the windblown shoreline on my right and started paddling parallel with it staying a good 20 yards away looking for wakes, bait, tails, or anything else that might give away the location of a redfish. I hadn’t seen much when I decided to stop and listen a little to see if I could hear anything other than the occasional splashing mullet jumping through the air. I repeated this process several times and finally heard a nice deep flush that no mullet could ever imitate. I moved another 20 yards in the direction of the noise and paused to listen once more. I heard the noise again and whipped my head around just in time to catch the splash made by a feeing fish. I made my way towards the splash and slid my foot over the edge when I was within 15 yards of it to hold myself in place. After a minute of observing the shoreline hoping to pin point its exact location a nice little tail flipped up in the air. I quickly grabbed my rod, made a cast a few yards past the fish, and slowly worked the chicken boy shrimp back in its direction. After a few twitches he turned on my bait and the fight was on. It didn’t take long to land the red that went right at 22”.

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I continued the same pattern for a while hopping from lake to lake paddling, looking, and listening over and over without much luck. I finally made it to a lake that appeared to be slightly shallower than most of the others according to Google earth and found lots of grass growing on the bottom. While paddling through observing the area I heard the familiar popping sounds of bait being sucked down and knew exactly what was about to come around one of the grassy points. I headed in that direction and sure enough, I nice pod of reds was running the shoreline devouring everything in sight and they were big. I could tell the ones leading the pack were definitely over the slot so I decided I would cast towards the end of the commotion for two reasons. First of all I was hoping that by snagging one from the rear the others would continue on without getting scared and breaking up. Also, I was hoping that pulling one from the rear might give me a chance of catching one in the slot since the larger fish were in the front and the smaller ones should have been in the rear. A sort of pecking order amongst fish. My first cast sailed long and got hung in the grass. I tried to carefully pop it free but the pod had passed by the time it fell into the water. On top of that, my line had wrapped around my rod tip, which meant I had to untangle it before casting again. After getting the line free, I started reeling in the slack and found out my lure had somehow got caught on my shoestring. I quickly unhooked my shoe and fired a cast in the middle of the pod before they got out of casting distance. My lure was picked up in no time and after a lengthy battle I had landed a solid 32” red, my largest from a marsh so far.

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After releasing that fish I looked up and saw another pod of over slots heading my way. I met them halfway and fired a lure out in front of them. After a few twitches I felt a thump and set the hook. The bare jighead came flying back at me because apparently the fish bit my plastic shrimp just right so that when I set the hook it ripped it free from the jighead. That commotion was enough to send that pod into a frenzy as they took off in every direction. The wind had been picking up slowly throughout the day and was now blowing between 15-20 mph with some stronger gusts. My trip back to the truck had me paddling into the wind and I had already covered several miles of marsh. I decided to call it a day and head to my parents house early to pick up my daughter. I’ll definitely be back to continue exploring this marsh. It has tons of potential and obviously big fish roaming around. It looks like there will be some nice low tides in the morning this upcoming weekend. I’m hoping to get out in the really shallow stuff to sight cast some crawlers if the wind and weather allows it.

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High Winds, Low Tides

Fat Redfish

 

My alarm went off this morning at 4 am with plans to meet up with a friend and take his new micro skiff out on its maiden voyage. I checked my phone and found a text message that was sent around 2 am saying that he had gotten sick and hadn’t slept all night. I knew the winds were predicted to be between 25 and 30 mph but this was my one chance to fish this weekend so instead of crawling back in bed, I decided to throw the kayak and rest of the gear in my truck and head for the coast. I had checked the tides for several places a few days before and knew where a nice low tide would be that was bound to have a few crawlers.

I arrived at my launch around 5:45 to a slightly lower tide than I had planned on. This didn’t bother me because the lower the water the better the fishing is in this marsh. The winds felt about right blowing close to 30 mph hour which meant the paddle out would be easy, but the paddle back in would be long and slow. I headed out in the dark and reached the entrance of the marsh in no time. I took a slightly different route than usual to reach my spot due to the lack of water and arrived as first light broke the horizon. I saw several wakes being pushed through the shallow water only to find out that most of them were stingrays feeding on small shrimp. I blew out a couple of reds but didn’t really have any luck around the areas that normally produce under these conditions. The strong winds were pushing the majority of the water towards the back of the marsh so I decided to follow it and see if the fish had done the same. As I neared the back lakes I spotted several groups of birds hovering near the water and expected pods. When I got within casting distance I didn’t find the pods of half a dozen reds I expected, just single fish crawling through about 4 inches of water with their head, backs, and tails completely exposed. The first cast was going to be directly into the wind but the red was only 10 yards away so it was doable. I waited for the fish to move left and right instead of towards and away from me and fired my chicken boy shrimp (morning glory) five yards past and in front of it. I slowly worked the lure back into its path, gave a couple of very small twitches when it was a few yards away and fish on. The fish went nuts running around the small lake causing the other fish to flee. After a 5 minute fight I landed a plump 25″ red, took a photo, and released it.

 

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I moved to the next lake where birds were working to find the same thing as before, several singles cruising a few inches of water. My next several casts fell victim to the wind causing each fish to blow out and disappear. I kept moving from lake to lake missing on about a dozen reds but after a while the birds stopped working and the fish stopped showing. I knew I had a long paddle straight into the wind so I started heading back towards the truck. As I neared the front of the marsh I spotted a single bird hovering close to the water in one of the last lakes before the exit. I decided to check it out and spotted a fat upper slot red coming down the shoreline right towards me. I set up and waited patiently for the fish to come within casting range. When it was about 8 feet away I fired a short cast that even the wind couldn’t screw up. One twitch of the rod and he was all over it, tearing through 5 inches of water in every direction possible. I landed the fish after a 5 minute battle to find out he went a little over 28 1/2 inches and probably weighed close to 10 lbs. judging from the size of its belly.

 

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It took another hour to get back to the truck but all things considered it was a fun day. 30 mph winds can be torture when kayak fishing, but I’ve never been able to resist a really low tide where I know redfish will be crawling through a couple inches of water.  Last time out I missed out on some good video footage because my Go Pro was pointed towards the sky instead of straight away.  This time I over corrected and pointed it nearly straight down and recorded nothing but my lap.  One of these days I’m bound to get it right.

 

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Every Other Cast (12-14-13)


Limit of Trout Inst


I made a quick trip to the coast this morning with high hopes of catching a limit of trout before the winds picked up around noon.  I saw a small window of opportunity and figured I’d better take advantage of it with winter weather being so unpredictable from week to week.  It had been too long since my last trip and I was itching to go.

I woke up around 5:45 and pulled out of the driveway around 6:15.  I reached the launch as daylight started to show itself and started unloading my gear.  A man that had just launched his boat made a comment that I only had a small window of opportunity before the winds were going to get pretty rough and he was right.  I told him that I was just going around the corner and that I could hopefully get my limit before the winds shifted from out of the north and picked up to 20+ mph.  We wished each other luck and headed off in opposite directions.

The spot I planned on fishing was only a quarter mile paddle to reach, with an additional mile or so to drift and cast to locate the fish.  As I approached the area, I made a cast with my pink Corky and waited 5 seconds between each twitch.  On about the third twitch I had a pretty solid thump, but no hook up.  I made another cast into the same area with the same twitch to pause sequence and was rewarded with my first trout of the day.  I decided to drop anchor at this point since I had two hits in as many casts and see if this spot would produce a couple fish.  For the next hour and twenty minutes it was non stop action on just about every other cast with lots of missed strikes mixed in. While my corky was getting a lot of attention, I would have several missed strikes before finally hooking up.  I picked up another couple trout and even a redfish with the Corky before noticing that I was missing the front hook.


Corky Redfish


Corky


Instead of taking the time to tie on another one, I decided to throw a Texas Tackle Factory Trout Killer in plum/white on a 1/8th ounce jighead to see if I could achieve a better hookup ratio.


Trout Killer


The trout killer ended up being a better bait on this day.  Temperatures over night didn’t get that low and had already reached the mid 50s at this point so the fish weren’t near as lathargic as I thought they might be.  I spent right at an hour and 20 minutes sitting in the same spot, catching around 40 fish.  Thirty of them were between 15 and 17 inches so I let them go but kept a limit of 18-22 inchers. All fish were holding in 4 feet of water with a mud and scattered shell bottom picking up the lure as it fell.  After stringing my 10th fish I decided to head home and get cleaned up.  Part of me wanted to drift further down in hopes of finding a big girl, however, I didn’t want to paddle around with 10 trout in tow.  I left them biting and headed back to the truck.

We started frying fish last year on Christmas day as an alternative to the turkey and dressing we eat so much of this time of year and really enjoyed it. These trout will make a great Christmas lunch for the family.

I also finished my first wrap last night and think it turned out alright.  I have a few blemishes that I’ll need to learn how to prevent before wrapping my actual blanks, but overall I’m happy with the way it turned out.


Finished Rod



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