Sight seeing reds for a more important day
A storm was blowing in that afternoon, so our only chance of getting some fishing in without getting blown away or rained on was a morning trip.
We have a tournament Feb. 17, and needed to do some research and pre-fishing. The plan for that trip was to check water levels, since there had been a winter and a lot of north wind, and to check spots we fish to see how they were holding.
We headed to the first spot, where we took second with last tournament season this time of year. We threw different baits than we normally would to catch the reds at that spot. We weren’t trying to catch them, just seeing if any were holding. On the second cast we hooked up, a nice little 4-pound red. It wouldn’t win anything, but at least the fish were there.
We noticed that 4-pounder was in a school and had four or five fish follow him to the boat. We continued to fish that area while looking around. I cast and got hung on the bottom, used the trolling motor to move over to it, and found it was an unmarked crab trap. When we got on top of the trap to unhang the bait, a school of about 50 reds swam by.
The reds ranged from lower slot to over slot, and had some mullet mixed in. When we saw the school, we knew the reds where holding and it was time to move, instead of pressuring them and running them off.
We went to a spot that produced well last April and later into the year. We wanted to see how it held in the winter, but hadn’t been able to get into it with the pushed-out water. There was enough water that trip to get into the spot. We had to float about 5 inches of water to get into it, but at least there was water leading into it now.
When we got back in there, it was barren, like a desert. We were back there about 30 minutes and didn’t see anything. No bait, no fish, not even mullet, no birds or crabs. I was on the verge of leaving when we saw movement in front of us.
We slowly worked toward it, and it was a school of 100-plus reds just slowly moving along the drop-off. We left the school alone and continued to move toward the back of the pond. It was very hard to move past the school; normally we would pole down and fish the school.
As I stated earlier, we were out there to see, learn and get ready for a tournament, not high pressure and sore lip every fish. When we got to the back of the pond, we saw schools between two and five moving around, and fished those. We were still using unusual baits, and Jake hooked up, landing another nice little 3- to 4-pound red. We worked back toward the exit and were going to move to a third spot to see if the water was back in enough to access.
When we got back into the bay, the wind had picked up and the bay was rolling 2-3 footers with caps. We chose to head back toward the landing and maybe fish a couple spots by the landing on the way in. We stopped at a mud flat by the landing that was out of the wind. We slowly worked around it, seeing single reds.
A couple of the reds were easily 5-pounders, if not bigger, cruising up shallow. We would cast at them and work the bait in front of them, but none of them seemed to be interested in biting. We weren’t catching anymore, the weather was only getting worse with the storms blowing in, so we called it a day, got the boat and gear cleaned and put up before the skies opened on us