by Capt Mullet
While the NCAA Basketball hoop-la is at its twilight I regularly find myself daydreaming about stalking that beautiful trophy yellowmouth on a perfect day on my favorite spot. Other guys are thinking about basketball. Not me! My mind is on specks that look like basketballs. As I write this blog I catch myself thinking of the exact piece of shell I would like to be casting to. Dreaming of that instantaneous hook-up that almost scares you when that fish rips the rod right out of your hands. Those are the kind of yellowmouth basketballs I am thinking about!
Big speckled trout are shallow so if you want a chance to catch one then you had better be stalking them quietly with all of your senses attuned in. When an athlete is in the zone he sees, hears and computes everything in his environment. As an above average angler you must be able to do the same. Paying attention to every little detail from reading the water to noticing every little wake, slick, pod and mullet around you is something I try to teach or stress to my clients who already have their own boats but just want to learn how to get to the next level of angling. If you really pay attention to the natural world and get in the zone then your catching ratio will go up dramatically.
Springtime patterns give the wade fishermen a serious advantage over other anglers. Finding a flat or cove along the shorelines of West Bay, East Bay or Trinity and grinding it out is what the serious angler is doing this time of year. Days of planning and watching the weather is critical to get the water depth, tides and winds just right. My general rule on wadefishing is the nastier the weather; the better the fishing. Drizzly, cloudy, windy days of low pressure are good days and should not be ignored. If you are waiting for that beautiful sunny day then good luck and have fun practicing your casting all day long with no bites.
Most of the time I have been throwing the Hackberry Hustler on a 1/8 or 1/16th oz jig but you will find a few broken backs, topwaters and corkies in my wade box also. Be sure to have something that imitates a small glass minnow also. The glass minnow hatch usually happens about the 1st thru 3rd week of April. So be ready for it. The Glo 3" inch Killer Shad from TTF works very well as a small glass minnow imitation so I keep a few of these in my box as April approaches.Nice catch Alex!
Drift fishing should continue to improve as long as it stops raining. The flushing of the bay we experienced in February was a big plus and should allow us to have a productive spring. The February flooding event was really a good flushing and should be over now and the whole bay is fishable again. Salinity levels have been on the rise for the past 2 weeks even in the northern part of Galveston Bay. The beginning of March end of February was tough for most boat fishermen but if you looked hard enough you could find a few for the freezer. Every other day we would catch the occasional blue cat or redfish.
The Spring Season is full upon us so follow the weather. The timing of early spring fronts will be the most effective way to know when the "bite" is on. Areas like the Kemah Shoreline and the Dollar Point shoreline will be turning on soon and are definitely spring hotspots for walk-in waders and drift fishermen. Your favorite soft plastic will work. Lately I have been throwing the Mrs Trout Killer by TTF when fishing out of the boat. I also like throwing some type of broken back or even a corky devil when drifting over heavy shell. When in the presence of mullet these type of plugs can be deadly so make sure and have a few rigged and ready to throw. The fish are going to hang shallow for a few more weeks. So areas of mud with scattered oyster or clam shell throughout are going to be priority areas. Theyw will be switching to sand by th enext full moon. Any type of shoreline leading in to or out of these type of areas are highways so taking your time to look along shorelines for slicks or signs can pay off. Live baiters will do best with a popping cork and shrimp. Try to keep your bait in the lower level of the water column so adjust your leader depths accordingly.Now that is a Big Ugly!!!
The "Drum Run" is already happening and should peak in the next few weeks. This time of year these species are overlooked for their ability to fight on light tackle. These fish have no food value (Unless you like worms) so take the time to release them carefully back in the water. The jetties, ship channel and Sea Wolf Park are definite hot spots throughout March and April. A great drive in spot for Big drum would be a day at Sea Wolf Park. Big black drum are caught on a regular basis at that location during the run on all types of baits including shrimp, crab and shad. Fishing off the rocks with sturdy poles and heavy lines will definitely give you a fighting chance at one of these beasts. Rock walkers at the jetties are also scoring well on these brutes.
The beachfront surf is another good area for spawning Black Drum to be found. Fish for them in the same way you would a bull redfish. Use Med-Heavy long distance poles so you can get your bait in to that 2nd or 3rd gut with a spider weight to keep it in place. Kayaks and canoes work well for paddling your baits out to that second and third gut. 3-4 ft leaders of 50lb+ will suffice with circle hooks for catch and release. Live mullet caught with your cast net is a preferred bait but isn't always there. My next choice would then be blue crab and/or fresh shad.
From a boat the preferred areas would be the rigs along the ship channel, Feenor Flats, the concrete ship and other deep areas that offer bait and tidal flow. Most of the rigs along the ship channel will hold black drum at this time of year. A weak tidal flow or the changing of the tides is the best time to target these big brutes in my opinion. Eating size!
March madness really is here!