Toads after Tournaments
My wife, Shauna, hasn’t fished with me since last October due to busy schedules and rough or cold weather. Sunday, the day after my last tournament, she asked if we could go fish for a couple of hours that afternoon, as she wanted to catch some reds.
I was excited she wanted to fish, and we loaded up and went. My thought process was go to the same spots, with the same baits as the day before, find the school of 3- and 4-pound reds again, and we would catch and have fun.
We left the same landing as the tournament, and went to the same first spot I went to the day before. The tide was falling, the water was calm and clear behind that point, and the fish were spooky. We worked through that area for about an hour, and saw a mess of rays, a couple trout and about 10 reds. As soon as we came into casting distance, the reds would spook. I decided to move to the second spot of the tournament that was in the open and a little choppy as to not spook the reds.
We arrived at the second spot; Shauna threw a saltwater assassin on a 3/16th head, and I threw a saltwater assassin on a 1/8th head. We found the direction of the wind and started a drift down the flats only using the trolling motor to keep the boat straight so both of us could cast the bank.
On about the 10th cast, I saw Shauna’s rod start to bow and the drag started screaming. I was on the casting platform at the time and saw the fish; it was a stud. I jumped down, coached her through the fight since she doesn’t do this every weekend, and she landed a 6.15-pound slot red.
It was awesome to watch her land this stud of a red and the excitement that gleamed off her face.
We continued to work the flat. I bowed up with another stud, as I could see him from the platform, then I pulled the hook. I know it happens, but I hate missing fish. We finished that flat and had one more place to hit before heading in.
We went back to the spot I caught the 21-inch red the day before. First cast, I slowly worked the bait off the drop-off, felt a thump and the drag peeled. The fish shot around the boat, under the boat, then headed for deep water. I fought the fish for almost 5 minutes and landed a 7.7-pound stud of a red.
My wife was excited that we were hanging toads, and I was confused and frustrated. I was frustrated wondering where these toads were the day before, when I needed them. The day before, we couldn’t catch a red over 4 pounds, and today we couldn’t catch a red under 6 pounds. Go figure.
That night I called my friend, who is also the director of the ECRC tournament, and told him about what happened. He thought it was an April Fool’s joke since it is so rare to catch 13-plus pounds the day after a tournament where the tournament took place.
I racked my brain over what was different while talking to him. The moon was the same, the tides were only a half-hour different with the same rise and fall rate, and we were in the same places with the same rigs. Then it dawned on me.
There was only one difference between the two days: Tournament day, the wind was out of the North; this day, the wind was out of the South. He agreed that must be it. It was odd, but must be it.
Why are the bigger reds pushed up more on south winds rather than a north wind? Is it due to the wind pushing out with the water? Does it push bait up instead of out? Was it just a fluke? Is it repeatable with the same conditions?
Those are just some of the thoughts that run through my head when things like this happen — but it’s good to know, and we will test the theory next time we have the same conditions.