Seeking Mud Reds in Frigid Water
It was 37 degrees with a 33-degree real feel under bluebird skies with 10 MPH winds from the north. Everyone else I talked to said they were heading for the stand or we were crazy for heading out on the water.
My oldest, Jake, and I were heading for the skinny water.
The water temperature was showing 53.2 degrees on a falling tide. In the past, with the same conditions, the reds were held up under docks and structure. We left the ramp and headed straight for a dock that we took second at a tournament with last winter, expecting to find the reds held up again. We got to the dock, and I threw a Matrx C-Sea Shad on a 3/16th-ounce trout eye and my son threw a Gulp Shrimp on 1/8th-ounce jig head, and started pitching under and around. On the third cast, I hooked up. It was fighting harder than a trout but not as hard as a red.
I got it to the boat and it was a 12-inch silver mullet that was hooked in the mouth. I don’t understand it, and it’s a first for us. We continued to pitch the dock and got nothing else but a pinfish, so we decided to move to another set of docks that are a little deeper with mud bottom with debris.
We got to the docks and started pitching. Jake was using the same and I was now pitching a Zman EZ Shrimp that comes rigged on a weighted hook with procure inshore scent. We were trying to test which would produce better and most cost-worthy for artificial shrimp. We pitched the first dock and neither had a hit or saw a fish. We started to pitch the second dock and my son hooked up, landing a 14-inch flounder. We finished working around those docks and got nothing else.
So we moved to some grass flats that produced for us roughly three weeks ago, hoping it would again. We put the trolling motor in and started motoring down the flats toward a pond off the south side that holds sometimes. We got down the flats with nothing, so we turned into the pond.
Immediately, we started seeing mullet and small shrimp flicking the surface in a couple inches of water. As we got to the back of the pond, I hooked up, got the fish close to the boat and lost it.
This continued to happen multiple times, as if they were short-striking it. So I changed to a 3/16th-ounce trout eye with a Gulp Shrimp. I started casting the gulp out and got no more strikes, pretty sure I spooked them moving around re-rigging. It was 2 p.m., and we had caught a pinfish, mullet and flounder on the day. I told Jake, “I know of one more place they may be holding and if not, I don’t know what to tell you.”
We headed to a bayou with three separate mud flats and three little creeks or run-offs dumping on the mud flats. The first set of mud flats were wind-blown and we could only access about 10 feet of them. So we moved to the second set of mud flats and immediately spooked a school of five reds.
Jake cast in front of them as the V’s were leaving and immediately his dragging started screaming. While he fought his red, I saw red after red and V after V leaving the flats. There must have been 25 reds pushed up there. Jake landed his 22-inch red and we moved on to another section of mud flats.
As we got close, I saw a red cruising the shoreline. I cast, short-jigged it three times, and the drag took off. I fought it and got it to the boat, another 22-inch red. We finished that bayou catching rat reds and seeing some singles cruising.
We were discussing our next move and it dawned on us that Jake was a trout away from his first inshore slam.
We stopped by a dock that always holds trout on the way back to the landing. He pitched the dock, jigged once, and hooked up. He landed a 13.5-inch trout, which fulfilled the requirements for an undersized slam, but he wanted a regulation slam. So he continued to cast — but that was all for the trout; it turned off like a switch.
I knew he was frustrated that the only time he was depending on a legal trout, it just didn’t happen — but that is fishing. Now we have another goal to shoot for before tournament season kicks off again.