Capt. Chris Martin proudly owns and operates Bay Flats Lodge in Seadrift, TX, overlooking San Antonio Bay. Chris has been fishing Texas Gulf Coast waters, from the Galveston Bay system to the San Antonio Bay system, since he was eight years old.
June 11, 2012
"FUN IN THE SUN"
by Captain Chris Martin-Bay Flats Lodge
Aside from the sometimes extreme heat, our Texas shorelines offer some really great fishing fun during summertime. It's this time of the year when one of my very favorite types of fishing generally turns on strong around here – shell. Fishing the many shell pads available in San Antonio Bay (SAB) during late June, July, and even into August can simply take your breath away, especially for anyone who may not have ever experienced it. You can't always fish the SAB reefs due to the presence of strong winds, but when you can you need to get out there as early in the morning as possible for a variety reasons. The first being that it's simply much more comfortable during the early morning hours – you get to beat the heat. Another is that you'll also beat the crowds by showing-up extra early on the reef where you wish to start your day. And a third reason I like being on the reefs as early as I can is because the fish can a lot of times be found in very shallow water near the crown of the reef in predawn light because the water has cooled overnight. I'll often idle the boat up into waist-deep water on the opposite side of the reef that I wish to fish on. I'll get out of the boat and won't take more than ten or twenty steps before stopping to make my first cast. If I can see the ridge of the reef, I'll make my way toward it, but it might be beneath the surface a bit depending on the day's tide. I intentionally try to limit my steps because I know the sound of crushing shell beneath my feet is easily heard and travels a great distance underwater.
As far as lures go, top water action can hardly be beat when it comes to having fun atop SAB's shell reefs. I'll start my day by throwing a black surface walker across the top of the reef in all directions during the hour before sunrise. Once the sun has risen, and if it is climbing into a morning sky that contains no clouds whatsoever, I'll then often change to a bright color like white, chartreuse, or even chrome in many cases. However, if there are clouds that appear as though they're going to be sticking around for a while, then I'll keep throwing the black lure, or I might try a bone-colored one. Now then, when the trout action heats-up on the reefs, I truly mean it really heats-up. When the trout are on the reefs, you'll generally know your destiny very early-on in the morning. If the hands on your watch are approaching 7:00am and you and your buddies haven't had a single strike, it may be time for you to look at your alternatives. At this point, the first thing I would do would be to try to locate a bite in one of the lower parts of the water column. I might try tossing a twitch-bait out to deeper water and work it back into the shallows, or just vice-versa. I'd also probably want to tie-on one of my favorite plastics and work it at different speeds up and down the spine of the reef and out beyond the drop-offs. And if you finally determine there to be absolutely no action to be found on the reef where you're wading, then pack-up and investigate other nearby reefs for positive signs of fish – active bait fish, birds flying or sitting on the water, fresh slicks coming off of the reefs.
If the reef scene just isn't your thing, or if you're not able to get to the reefs due to heavy winds, then you might consider trying some of the back lakes that are situated all along Matagorda Island. The lakes most often offer protection from the prevailing summertime winds, and can often be counted on for a certain level of seclusion from a lot of other boats and anglers. The lakes commonly hold descent water and are prime places for targeting some large, bronze-shouldered red fish. I prefer to wade the lake areas, but their soft-mud floors can often make wading extremely difficult. So, don't feel bad about drifting the lakes, or even anchoring in a preferred spot. I've done it all back in the lakes, and have caught fish in each scenario. One method of boat fishing that I like doing in the back lakes is fishing the drains. I'll oftentimes position the boat to one side of the mouth of a small cut or bayou at the beginning of an outgoing tide – when water is being pulled-out of the lake through the cut, or the bayou. These are great ambush points for trout and red fish as they hunt for unsuspecting baitfish and other marine life to be emptied out of the lake. But regardless of whether I'm fishing atop shell reefs, wading a protected shoreline, floating a back lake, or venturing out into the surf, there's still just one word to describe summertime coastal fishing in Texas – FUN!
With summer upon us, I remind you, your family, and your friends of the importance of applying plenty of sunscreen first thing in the morning, and to wear long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants. And don't forget to drink plenty of fluids throughout the entire course of the day, particularly those which are non-alcohol content in nature.
May 09, 2012
"Embrace The Change"
by Captain Chris Martin-Bay Flats Lodge
If the month of April was to have been an indication as to what lies in store for us in May and the rest of the summer months, then things may heat-up around here quite rapidly. Rainfall wasn't very abundant, and the ground and the air are both fairly dry. We can only hope that we don't have a repeat of last year's grueling drought conditions as it would only further the hardships being experienced by folks all around our state, not to mention the effects it could have on our coastal fisheries. Since April didn't bring many showers, maybe the month of May will – according to the weather experts the Texas coast is either in store for an unusual wet May, or the spring rains simply are not going to occur this year. Although we had rather low precipitation levels in April, we still encountered the accustomed strong winds of springtime, and they haven't tapered-off much, if any, as of this writing. The air temperatures, too, seem to be a bit higher than normal for what we are used to seeing at this time in the year. Some locations around the state have already reached beyond the century mark on their thermometers. The past month also showed us abnormal and unpredictable tidal activity that made it extremely difficult for me to plan any one given fishing strategy for any one given day – normal or high tide one morning, with an absolutely exposed muddy shoreline low tide the next. In a nutshell, I guess what I'm trying to explain here is that this past month and the next couple months ahead are probably some of the more notable times of the year for changing conditions and that these are times that call for changes in our blueprint for fishing success. There are a lot of us out there who will embrace these changes and drive onward, but there are also those of us who may just find the immediate upcoming months as being some of the more challenging times of the year simply due to the amount of change taking place right now.
You don't have to become a victim of the changing times. Since change always seems to be inevitable, why not learn to plan for it accordingly, and then act upon your plans? Sound like a good idea? Well here are a few suggestions that might help you along the way. One of the first changes I begin making to my tactics at this time of the year is that I start looking for pods of baitfish instead of single baitfish when scouting for a place to stop the boat and begin wading. Springtime is when everything in nature rejuvenates and comes alive with action. And this means the baitfish will be doing the same, and a lot of times in great numbers. The pods will tend to position themselves over the cool and protected depths of shallow water shorelines during dark and early morning hours prior to the sun advancing high into the sky and heating the water. This brings about yet another change for me that makes this month different from that of earlier months of the year, and that's the fact that I now will be focusing on beginning my wading sessions earlier in the morning each day – no more mid-morning starts! From now on, I'll be getting out of the boat before the sun breaks over the horizon. Also, instead of starting out the morning in deeper water, I now will probably not be getting my thighs wet until at least the second or third hour of bright sunlight, possibly even later if presented with heavy overcast conditions. I'll position myself so as to be able to take full advantage of the larger pods of baitfish that have sought refuge upon the shallows overnight. Then, as the sun rises into the sky and the shallow water begins to warm, I will then begin a somewhat slow transition out to deeper water, all the while following the baitfish as they do the same. As I pursue the pods into deeper water, I'll change another tactic over those of previous months. Instead of primarily working only the lower portion of the water column, I will now begin working the upper portion, then the middle portion, and then the lower portion. Once I've reached thigh-to-waist deep water I'll stop in my tracks. I'll then begin fanning the area sufficiently while tossing one of my favored top water plugs from left-to-right and then back again. If the surface walker draws no attention, before moving out of that spot I'll tie-on a sub-surface walker or suspending bait and will repeat the process. If I don't entice a strike in the middle portion of the water column, then I'll attach a plastic bottom-dweller before wading any further out into deeper water. I'll generally locate the bite in one of these three areas of the water column at this time in the year. Unfortunately, I'll sometimes have to work a while before finding it – but that's why they call it fishing, I guess!
The month of May presents water temperatures that are warm enough to support wade-fishing without the use of chest waders. So, I want to remind everyone to be careful in their approach of the upcoming summertime heat. This is a time of the year that can be hazardous to your health, literally. Don't forget to protect your arms and legs with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and to protect your areas of exposed skin with an ample of amount of sunscreen during the day. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids, and remember to eat when you get hungry. You'll be glad you did!
April 16, 2012
"On Top of the World"
by Chris Martin
Every time I tell someone that the month of May is one of my favorite times of the year, they often look at me as if I'm a stranger to the Gulf coast area. One reason this happens, I believe, is because they don't understand why I would choose such a windy month for being one of my favorite months of the year. Well, they're right. May is generally a very windy month. But tossing the subject of heavy winds aside, May also normally indicates to those of us in-the-know that there is some truly spectacular top water action headed our way in the immediate or very near future. And where do I want to be once the action has turned-on up top? Well, there's no place I'd rather be than right here in the San Antonio Bay region. Although my top water results varied somewhat in March and April, the bite on top should only grow in significance and consistency with each passing day and week as we progress through May. It's only a matter of time now that those of us who live for the thrill of surface casting will be able to reap the rewards of doing so on an almost daily basis in most all of our coastal bay systems. The strong winds of May will primarily be out of the south, and this southerly influence will bring with it higher tides, additional daylight, warmer water, and distinct pods of bait fish among the flats and shallows – all of which are precursors to a successful top water bite.
My recent schedule has treated me with the rare delight of me being able to scout areas the day before entertaining many of my fishing parties. On these scouting expeditions, like I said earlier, I'm still finding that the top water bite remains irregular as we near the end of April. Here recently, I've experience days where I'll toss cast after cast with little to attention being paid to my lure. Then, the very next day I'll stumble upon an aggressive bite on top that lasts a short while and then suddenly declines without warning. I did have a couple days of notable top water action this month, but nothing like what should be in store for us next month. So, until the bite on top turns on strong, you'll find me continuing to alternate my baits between that of soft plastics and that of surface-walkers. However, I'm more than ready to stop using plastics at a moment's notice. The time to do so should come any day now.
In order for me to be ready to take full advantage of all of the upcoming fun, I need to be prepared. The first thing on my list of things to do is to inspect some of the top water baits that I use on a more regular basis – the ones that have consistently produced for me and that are the ones I have the utmost confidence in. I look for rust on the hooks, the split-rings, and on the nose loops, often replacing any or all of these pieces. The body of hard baits can often take on a stain or two of their own, but can often be easily cleaned with a little elbow grease and the proper cleanser for the job. Following inspection, I make sure to give each plug a thorough rinsing with freshwater. In fact, I often rinse all my lures that I carry on my trips on a daily basis, regardless of whether I used them that day, or not. It's a good habit to get into, and one that you'll only benefit from in the future, especially given the ever increasing cost of lures these days.
So, which top water baits are best, and which ones should you use? Well, I'm not going to tell you which lures you have to use, or which ones are best for you. There's a wide variety of manufacturers making many different sizes and colors that are readily available today, with more being introduced all the time. All I can do is tell you about the ones that I've chosen to use in the past and that I have been very pleased with. In recent years, some of my all-time favorites have included the Top Dogs, the She Dogs, the Super Spooks, the Spook Juniors, and the Skitter Walks and the Skitter Walk Juniors. However, there are some new ones out there made by Texas Tackle Factory that I've now rapidly grown fond of – TTF's GunDog series. The GunDog series consists of three top water baits, the Flush, the Dummy, and the Little Dummy. The largest in the series is the Flush (5 in., 7/8 oz.) which is enhanced with a dual rattle system – one loud clicking ball, and multi-BB rattles in the belly. What the Flush brings to the table is a top water presentation never before seen by fish. Instead of the standard side-to-side walk-the-dog action produced by other top water baits, the Flush retrieves in a smooth "S" pattern allowing you to work the bait really slow or really fast. The two smaller baits, the Dummy (4-3/8 in., 5/8oz), and the Little Dummy (3-1/2 in., ½ oz), each have bumps along the side of the bait giving it more presence in the water – a bigger wake, an enhanced sound profile, and a unique hook presentation.
When it comes to the discussion of which colors you should use, I have to admit that I'm of the old-school way of thinking when it comes to this topic. I've always chosen the use of dark colors on dark, overcast days and at night, and have always saved bright colors for bright daylight hours in clean, clear water conditions. You'll find some folks that'll tell you that because of the pronounced silhouette they establish in any water or light condition, dark-colored baits can be used effectively year-round in any and all conditions. And I have a close friend that will throw nothing but bone-colored top waters, all year long. Until I become a fish myself, I may not be able to tell you what colors work best, and for what reasons. The simple trend I've stuck with to-date that seems to work for me is my use of the top water baits that have consistently produced for me in the past and, consequently, that I've developed a certain level of confidence in. You'll need to decide for yourself based upon your own experiences and confidences. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.
April 02, 2012
by Captain Chris Martin
Since spring is now here, let's talk a moment about the wind. It is at this time each year that we can expect to have winds blowing for what often may seem like eternity, and sometimes they'll be blowing rather hard. When it's really windy like this, I like to locate active bait that is showering out of the water. I'll make my approach to the proper bait-laden area as slowly and as quietly as possible. I find that on some days the bait will be more widespread, and that the bait fish are located primarily in dirty water against the windward side. But on other days, I may find the bait to be in clear water that's located along the leeward side. I idle the boat upwind of where I choose to begin my wade session, and once I've gotten out of the boat, I try to concentrate my efforts to within a 100-yard radius of my starting point. Now then, in determining whether I'm going to fish the windward side or the leeward side of any particular shoreline or back lake, my decision always comes back to whether or not I have located bait. Granted, finding the bait can be difficult, but the windy conditions that are so commonly characteristic of this season may just prove to be one of your biggest obstacles of all. Learning where and when to fish with the winds often determines whether or not I get to brag at the end of the day. Adding to wind difficulties are the other intrinsic obstacles which inherently accompany the upcoming months of April and May – transitions in water temperatures, air climate, and tide levels. And although day-to-day top water results seem to vary quite a bit, it will only be a short time before avid top water enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the love of their chosen area of expertise on a daily basis.
April brings with it the advancement of much warmer air and water temperatures and sets off a biological alarm clock within trout which signals to them that this is the start of their annual spawning season – an event held primarily over sandy shorelines. So, remember that it's at this time in the year when you will not be restricted to finding prized fish just over mud and grass structure – if the mud of the back lakes becomes too much for you, simply scout nearby sandy shorelines for the presence of bait. But regardless of where you find yourself wading, try to first remember a couple of the springtime rules. One is that you should always make it a point to wade at a slow pace. And another rule is that you should attempt to blanket an entire area with casts in different directions prior to making any moves forward or sideways. When I'm fishing with a group of people, I like the group to move and stop with me. And if my group is catching fish, I always tell them to stay right where they are, because every time you take steps you tend to create clouds or you could possibly spook the fish. Also when fishing the sand in April, I like to slow the rate of my retrieve to the point where my plastic bait is just "crawling" along within the lower water column because this is where area just above the bottom that large female trout prefer to lay when spawning. The small male trout fertilize the egg's that the females have ejected upon the sandy bottom, and because of this I've often found that the smaller male trout hang suspended above the big females, thus resulting in me catching smaller trout whenever I happen to be working my lure in the middle or upper water columns.
CONGRATS GREG S. 2012 BIG TROUT CONTEST WINNER
Just as-like when I'm looking for the presence of bait on windy days in backcountry lakes, I'll need to locate nervous bait while targeting the sandy shorelines. I'll look for small, round slicks popping up near the bank, and I'll concentrate on points that extend out into the bay further than others – openings that lead into the back lakes that have protruding points are definitely good areas to fish. I also like to wade in areas where the bay bottom is configured with pronounced undulations, as big trout will often lie in the associated wash-out areas while waiting for an opportunity to ambush unsuspecting baitfish. With air temperatures starting to climb between 80 and 90 degrees, look for the sandy shorelines to heat up during late April and early May, especially during the middle of the day, or late in the afternoon. And as usual for this time of the year, the top water action will also begin to heat-up as April progresses, so now is a great time to blow the dust off your favorite surface walker and get to work. If when tossing your favorite surface plug you find that the fish appear to be interested, but that they just aren't inhaling the lure, try experimenting with different retrieves. I like a steady walk-the-dog retrieve until I get a blowup, then I let it sit for a few seconds and just give it a quick twitch, or two (9 out of 10 times they'll come right back to it).
There's always something fun going on around the Lodge, and this spring is no exception. Do you have the best recipe ever? Then enter Bay Flats Lodge 1st Annual San Antonio Bay Recipe Challenge. Just email your best original recipe to Chris@BayFlatsLodge.com and you could win a free trip for three people to Bay Flats Lodge. The winner will receive lodging and meals for one night and full day of fishing with one of our professional fishing guides (a package valued at $1,200.00). Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.
Captain Chris Martin
March 22, 2012
Captain Chris Martin
Recreational fishing on our Gulf coast is ever-changing, and the popularity of the sport continues to grow faster than that of collegiate-level lacrosse in today's America. Youth and elderly, amateurs and experts, genuine Texans, and other folks from all parts of the globe have recently showed an increased interest in a chance at learning and discovering all that our coastal regions have to offer in the way of Texas saltwater angling. And one of the more notable groups of people to venture into this realm lately has been the women. We've had the pleasure of hosting many women's groups over the course of the past few years that have been true producers when it comes to photo time at the end of the day. Now then, I know there are a lot of us guys out there that'll swear that part of the pleasure that we experience from being out on the water while fishing comes from the fact we have been successful at freeing ourselves from the confines of female control. But I'm here to tell you that I can honestly say to a lot of men out there that they can only hope to someday become as good a coastal angler as that of some of these women have proven to me to be. A lot of these ladies simply have it going on when it comes to fishing. They show up ready to fish, and they show our guides the true meaning of what it sometimes takes in order to make a name for themselves as a minority in an otherwise male-dominated sport. If you happen to find yourself fortunate enough to be wading alongside one of these talented ladies next time you're out tossing one of your favorite plugs, you may wish to consider giving things your best effort, as in failing to do so might just result in her embarrassing you at the cleaning table at the end of the day.
Over the years, many of you may have heard of the term "prospecting". Definitions of the term include the infamous California gold rush of 1848. The dictionary defines it as a meaning to explore an area, especially for mineral deposits; or to inspect (a region) for mineral deposits. I, too, have adopted a similar meaning for the word "prospecting", but my definition denotes a somewhat different indication. While it's true that I do tend to explore and inspect a lot of different spots and areas on a regular basis, I'm not looking for silver and gold in the mineral sense - my quest is simply the constant pursuit of silver-backed speckled trout and gold-shouldered redfish.
Now then, more times than not, our Gulf winds dictate how we're going operate our fishing activities on any given day down here along the coast. That's why I regularly speak to you about fishing the conditions, and not simply fishing your favorite spots. I prospect new locations in each different wind condition, and what I've learned from doing so allows me to share the following analogy with you...Go to your kitchen pantry, open the door, and make mental note of the numerous and many different varieties of food groups. Now imagine each of the boxes and cans as being different varieties of wind conditions (instead of food groups). For example, while taking inventory of the pantry, you happen to note there are four boxes of SSE wind at 5-mph, but only one box of NW wind at 25-mph. If, however, while on your next fishing trip, you find that you happen to be facing a NW wind at 25-mph, you only have one box to choose from in a pantry that contains many different choices. This particular scenario puts a lot of us in a sudden state of distress as to us knowing where to go from there, and many of us tend to begin to second-guise other available options - only due to the fact that we have not properly prospected other areas or regions. Another common example is that a lot of us often experience anxiety in the fact that we've been waiting all week to go fishing. We finally make our way down to the coastal town that we'll be fishing out of only to find that heavy winds have the tops of the palm trees bent over in the pre-dawn hours after we've awaken from a short night's sleep. We immediately think to ourselves that there's a strong possibility that our favorite fishing spot may be blown-out. However, we seem to remember our favorite spot is sufficiently protected from a wind coming from this direction, so we pack up our buddies and their gear and make our way across the bay, only to discover upon arrival at our favorite spot that another early-riser beat us there, or that someone pitched a tent overnight in order to beat everyone there. There goes your spot - enough said? This is why I always prospect, remembering to never limit my opportunities based solely upon those areas which are most familiar to me. I always make it a practice to build wind conditions into many different equations and scenarios.
In closing, and now that the water is getting warm enough to wet-wade without the aid of waders, I wish to remind everyone not to get too comfortable with the fantastic Spring weather! Yes, it feels good not to be under the confines of several layers of clothes, but this time of year can present drawbacks as well. Remember to protect your arms and legs with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and protect your exposed skin with an ample of amount of sunscreen during the day. You'll be glad you did! Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds...Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region. www.BayFlatsLodge.com
PHOTO: Greg P. and guests enjoyed drift fishing with live shrimp - "Just the night before winds were gusting 50 mph and turned San Antonio Bay upside down"...You never know, unless you go! Captain TJ Christensen did an excellent job putting them on the fish.FREE Tee Shirt "That's How We Roll" for the BEST analogy related to this article
March 05, 2012
"These Changing Times"
by Captain Chris Martin
"These Changing Times"
I think March might just top the charts as being one of the more challenging fishing months of the year. It's a time when we seem to experience the most amount of change at any one given time with regards to the fishing patterns and our fishing situations. Last week was a prime example. The first day of the week was mostly cloudy with temperatures ranging from an overnight low of 40-degrees to a daytime high of 66-degrees. After that, the weather went downhill for the next few days. Periods of brief and intermittent rain actually resulted on day 3 and day 4 with temperatures that approached the 80-degree mark, and the wind couldn't make-up its mind as to whether it wanted to blow out of the South, out of the North, or whether it wanted to blow at all on those two days. By the time day 5 rolled around, the wind had died completely and the fog had rolled in, leaving things warm and balmy most all of the day. Then, day 6 started out calm and 59-degrees. The sun was bright and the daytime temperature sailed into the low 80's. The wind went from being absolutely nothing to that of being NNE at 10 mph before sunset. And by the time we were closing out the week on day 7, we awoke to a morning temperature that had now dropped back down into the 40's. The day was bright and sunny, but the daytime high only reached into the 60's. A strong North wind was blowing at 12-18 mph, with gusts nearing 25 mph. Wow, what a week that was. In that one week we came full-circle with regards to daily temperatures – we started, and ended, the week with lows in the 40's and highs in the 60's, but witnessed the mercury soaring in excess of 80-degrees during mid-week. We also were dealt winds from almost every direction imaginable, and with speeds averaging from absolutely nothing to that of strong gusts. We endured precipitation and fog near mid-week and adjusted accordingly to alternating levels of cloud cover the remainder of the week. Along with all these interchanging conditions are the increasing tides that are provided for us at this time of the year, and it's these frequent, sometimes daily, alterations that help me and other coastal anglers recognize March as being possibly one of the most difficult months. Water temperatures will soon start to slowly warm with the passing of each day. And in the absence of winter's cold-water conditions, trout and redfish will soon become more than active and aggressive as they forage for their springtime food supply. So, with all these different changes taking place (basically) at the same time, you may be asking yourself, "How am I supposed to be able to effectively locate a bite pattern?" Well, it can sometimes truly be a contest between you, the elements, and the fish!
In attempting to gain the upper hand in these March situations, one thing that is of utmost importance is that you not limit the area(s) in which you fish to those which have become most familiar to you. Something that has paid great dividends for me in the past is my pursuit and investigation of new wading spots during this time of the year – areas that may have been inaccessible over the course of the past few months due to extreme low-tide conditions. Adding to this, it's at this time that I'll begin looking to areas of mud, grass, shell, and even sandy bottom structure in shallower water, as the air and water temperatures will continue to rise and the bite will begin to increase in skinny water. Now then, because the fish do start to become more active during March in order to fulfill their appetites, I like to make it a general practice to key-in on the actual location of active bait fish whenever scouting some of my more favorite and productive fishing spots. And realizing that there are many changes in tides and winds, I know that the bay waters often become disturbed to the point of being severely discolored. Don't let that simple fact discourage you from fishing any one particular area. Learn to fish the signs and conditions, and not the spot. If you happen upon jumping baitfish in "chocolate milk" water, get out of the boat and throw a top water or plastic bait of your choice – especially if there's bait that's being driven against the windward shoreline. Most of my best results in these situations have come from my utilization of dark-colored baits, and have yielded me and my parties with quite a few handsome catches when we thought all else had been lost due to the conditions. In other words, never give up on the situation at hand during March…just keep grinding!
Keep in mind that you can always stay informed as to the latest that Bay Flats Lodge has to offer by simply signing-up on the website to receive your daily newsletter. Remember to practice CPR, Catch, Photo, and Release, whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region. www.BayFlatsLodge.com 1-888-677-4868
February 07, 2012
"February Trout Intel"
by Captain Chris Martin
"February Trout Intel"
February 7, 2012
February is a month when I key in on mud and grass in protected coves, area drains, small bayous, and narrow channels at the point at which they lead out of the back lakes that are situated up and down Matagorda Island adjacent to San Antonio Bay. And it's in these areas that I'll continue to work my artificial baits slower and slower as the month progresses, hoping all the while to hook a couple of really big wintertime trout. Now then, in order for me to be able to catch big trout, I must first target big trout. In targeting these big gals over my career, there have been a few different types of baits that I have liked using on a regular basis. One type is what I refer to as the slow-sinkers. These are the ones like the soft-plastic Corky, the Corky Fat Boy, and the Corky Devil, all of which sink slowly toward the mud and grass until messaged to return toward the surface via a smooth, minimal motion at the end of my rod tip. Another type of artificial bait I've used with great results on trips accompanied by low tides and cold weather are the many different makes and models of suspending lures. These are the ones that some folks refer to as twitch-baits and I've thrown a lot of them over the years, but some of the more popular ones today are ones like the Catch 5, the Series III Catch 2000, and the 27MR MirrOdine. Depending on the brand and model, these lures will automatically position themselves in the water anywhere from 6-inches to maybe a foot (or even two feet) below the surface. They can generally be tossed-out and then retrieved at a steady pace with an occasional slight twitch from the end of your rod tip throughout the course of the retrieval pattern. They're nothing short of fun and can be downright effective at catching big cold water trout and red fish when worked properly amongst the right conditions. Top waters will also produce, and my personal favorites have recently become the new GunDog series of top water baits that are now being manufactured by Texas Tackle Factory (TTF). One reason I like these new top waters is because it seems as though they are quite easy to toss and to retrieve in high-wind conditions that we're so often faced with during this time of the year. These new GunDog baits have found a permanent home in my tackle box, as they have certainly yielded full stringers for me in recent months while fishing in many different situations and conditions. However, trying to be consistent in which lure you use can most often be the key thing to remember when selecting your lure for the day. Training yourself to pick the one lure that you have the utmost confidence in, regardless of the lure type, and then sticking with that same lure throughout the course of the entire day will minimize your number of lure changes, and consequently maximize the comfort level you have with the bait you selected, especially when you're almost certain there's big fish in the area. Numerous and massive strikes in February may become few-and-far-between, so don't get frustrated when the action's slow. Just keep grinding, and remember that good things always seem to come to those who wade or drift slowly!
If you prefer hunting your big trout this month using soft plastics (tails), then you might think seriously about lightening your overall presentation. Cold weather trout and red fish tend to move rather slowly during this time of the year, and because of this I often prefer using a 1/16-ounce lead-head with my plastics instead the 1/8-ounce that I would otherwise throw. It's during this time of the year that I also like to reduce the weight and size of the line on my reel, normally downsizing to nothing larger than 12-lb. line, with 10-lb. being my personal preference. I know using smaller line may sound silly to some, but I find that doing so truly enhances the feel of the bite at a time when bites are often hardly felt at all, and that it really makes for more of a challenge once I've hooked into a big fighter. In maximizing your chances even further this month, learn to focus on the size and amount of baitfish in the general area rather than worrying yourself about the color of the water, as water color does not play as big a role in the day's outcome as does the actual presence of natural bait. Tides and water levels are also important items to pay attention to when trying to decide where you might be searching for big fish this month. If the tides are high, I'll often look for trout in some of the more remote areas along windward shorelines of back lakes. And when the water levels slack-off a bit, I begin positioning myself out in front of area drains leading out the back lakes.
In closing this edition, I'd wish to remind you of the 2012 WINTER FISHING SPECIAL going on at Bay Flats Lodge during February and March. It's a time when you and your guests can fish each day of the week at tremendously discounted rates. Additionally, Texas Tackle Factory (TTF) has teamed with Bay Flats Lodge (BFL) to bring you the BFL & TTF FEBRUARY / MARCH BIG TROUT CONTEST, where catching the biggest trout (while fishing with BFL during the months of Feb. and Mar.) will win you and three of your guests 2-nights of lodging and meals, and 2-days of guided fishing (a $2600.00 value). But that's not all, if the winning trout is landing using a TTF lure, the winning angler will also receive a $200.00 gift certificate to shop the TTF web store, a quantity of 36 TTF Gun Dog Top waters (1 of each color - Flush, Flush Jr., Dummy, Little Dummy), 2 Bags of each color KFM Jive 45 Soft Plastic Baits, and 2 Bags of each color of the Gun Dog Shock collar. Furthermore, TTF is also sponsoring various daily prizes (too numerous to list here) for the biggest trout of each day, so please phone or email me to learn more about these special BFL events. Also, keep in mind that you can always stay informed as to the latest that Bay Flats Lodge has to offer by simply signing-up on the website to receive your daily newsletter. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds...Guide Chris Martin, 1-888-677-4868
Bay Flats Lodge on San Antonio Bay www.BayFlatsLodge.com
January 25, 2012
Wading Through Winter
by Chris Martin
"Wading Through Winter"
Guide Lines, by Capt. Chris Martin
Even on the coldest of days, if given the choice, I'll choose to wade a shoreline instead of drifting it. I don't want to risk spooking a trophy with a lot of hull slap and heavily placed marker buoys. And I'm also thinking that firing-up the big black Mercury to make another drift probably isn't a wise and effective method of sneaking up on one of the "big gals" this time of the year. I can cover a lot of real estate quite rapidly by drifting, but that's not what it's all about when chasing large trout in the wintertime. Instead, I prefer the ability of stealth that's provided to me by me walking in waist-deep water while wearing a good pair of chest waders and a warm wading jacket. There's just something special about being afoot out in the water amongst that which you treasure the most. After all, where else can you go to face your rival in such a beautiful, peaceful, and serene setting? Nowhere else that I can think of…!
Because it's colder right now, I like to wade mud/grass or mud/shell areas, as mud is darker than sand which allows the mud to soak up and hold the heat from the sun much better. Creeks exiting the marsh flow mud and silt outward and onto the floor of the bay, forming nutrient-rich channels that may only be a foot or two deeper than surrounding waters, giving the trout a somewhat sense of security of deeper water during cold weather. These small tidal channels also serve as a highway in and out of the marshy backcountry for baitfish and predators alike. But a wintertime factor that often has an even greater effect on baitfish and trout is often the wind. I prefer wind over no wind at all. Why? Well, in my opinion, windy is better because I believe wind provides more oxygenated water for the fish, therefore the fish are more lively and active due to increased oxygen levels. I sometimes compare it to today's live-bait anglers who use pure oxygen to keep their bait livelier and living for longer periods of time – shrimp, croaker, etc. And when speaking of wind, especially in the winter, I like to remember to always make it a point to setup as many wading sessions as possible each day along windward shorelines. Windward shorelines are better because the wind blows the baitfish up against the shallows along the windward shore. And where there's bait, the trout will not be long to follow.
Now then, cold weather also usually means there will be a lull in the tides, so as I search for large trout in February I'll be focusing on working my baits very slow at these low-tide times. Some such favorite spots of mine will be among mud and grass in shoreline coves, protected bayous, narrow channels, and slight drains that I find leading out of the neighboring back lake areas. During a high tide, however, I'll be found searching for bait in some of the more remote regions of the back lakes – fishing along the windward shorelines of the lakes during high tides. Higher tides usually result in off-colored waters in the backcountry, but again, there will typically be a lot of bait that has been driven against the shoreline. In going after big winter trout, the first bait of the day will be a soft plastic that I'll hug close to bottom as I bounce it slowly back to where I'm standing in the water. I prefer plastics along the bottom first thing in the morning in an attempt to locate a bite. Top water baits are also big producers at this time in the year, and you'll find me throwing a wide variety of patterns, but in smaller sizes, as I've found it to be a lot easier to work the smaller surface baits in winter's sometime high-wind conditions. But regardless of whatever bait I happen to choose on any given day during the winter, it seems as though I've always proven to myself the importance of me choosing the bait which I have the most confidence in. I'll rig that lure and will sometimes stick with it throughout the whole day. I've found that throwing the same lure all day minimizes the number of times I change lures, and that I (in turn) maximize my comfort level that I have with my pre-selected bait.
In closing, don't forget about the 2012 WINTER FISHING SPECIAL at Bay Flats Lodge during February and March when you and your guests can fish each day of the week at tremendously discounted rates. Additionally, Texas Tackle Factory (TTF) has teamed with Bay Flats Lodge (BFL) to bring you the BFL & TTF FEBRUARY / MARCH BIG TROUT CONTEST, where catching the biggest trout (while fishing with BFL during the months of Feb. and Mar.) will win you and three of your guests 2-nights of lodging and meals, and 2-days of guided fishing (a $2600.00 value). But that's not all, if the winning trout is landing using a TTF lure, the winning angler will also receive a $200.00 gift certificate to shop the TTF web store, a quantity of 36 TTF Gun Dog Top waters (1 of each color - Flush, Flush Jr., Dummy, Little Dummy), 2 Bags of each color KFM Jive 45 Soft Plastic Baits, and 2 Bags of each color of the Gun Dog Shock collar. Furthermore, TTF is also sponsoring various daily prizes (too numerous to list here) for the biggest trout of each day, so please phone or email me to learn more about these special BFL events. Also, keep in mind that you can always stay informed as to the latest that Bay Flats Lodge has to offer by simply signing-up on the website to receive your daily newsletter. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.
Video by guests Paul B. all the way from Clevleland, Ohio 2nd year to hunt ducks at Bay Flats Lodge with Captain Haroldhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4GLoRAFYIU&feature=youtube_gdata_player
January 04, 2012
"Get Ready to get Muddy"
by Chris Martin
"Plan on Getting Muddy"
by Capt. Chris Martin
January 3, 2011
At the end of December the water temperatures in and around the San Antonio Bay region were already hovering around the fifty-five degree mark, and we should probably plan on things getting even colder by mid-to-late January. We could be experiencing true wintertime conditions by then which would, in turn, bring out avid trophy trout hunters all along the Texas coast. That's right! When the bay waters turn cold, coastal anglers from Sabine Lake to the Lower Laguna Madre will be "hog" hunting out of their boats. Their weapon of choice is usually one of their favorite six or seven foot fishing rods, and their arsenal normally contains a mixture of artificial baits to include dark-colored soft plastics, slow-sinkers, shallow running crank baits, and maybe even an occasional top water lure. It's a passion that's shared by many, and I'll be right out there next to them as they venture out in January. I love looking for cold water trout so much that I don't even mind having to deal with what can be sometimes harsh conditions associated with this time of the year. Some of the days might be long and gloomy with bitter winds and long periods of time between strikes, while other days might be bright and calm with relatively good action. But there will always be a couple common denominators affiliated with whatever type of winter day scenario I happen to be facing. The first is that I know I'm going to get a little bit dirty throughout my day of fishing, and the second is that I can probably count on being tired at the end of the day and maybe even a little sore the next morning. Why? Because wintertime wading means I'll be wading in mud that's anywhere from just a few inches to what may become waist-deep in depth while I search for these big winter fish. Needless to say, my equipment and I aren't always real clean when each day is done, and I realize it's a labor of love to hose-off my waders, all my gear, and my boat during periods of extremely cold temperatures. However, these tasks are all well worth the effort while knowing all the time that I've had an opportunity to chase what very well could turn out to be one of my career-best catches. All of a sudden, getting really muddy doesn't seem too bad to me anymore!
Where do all the different bait fish and the trout go when the weather gets really cold? Well, I'm told that all but maybe just a few of the baitfish and shrimp species often tend to get swept out of the confines of the immediate bay system during colder weather generally due to stronger frontal passages and because of a strong tidal flows (especially low tide) that are often related to wintertime months. It's for this very reason that I will sometimes spend quite a bit of time during winter months scanning an area before anchoring and exiting the boat. Because the heavy bait action of summer won't be visible, I look for small signs like a surface swirl or a tail swirl, a bird or duck sitting on the water's surface, or even a flying bird that happens to set its wings while looking for food below. Other signs I'm sometimes forced to look for are those which can't be seen above the surface of the water. A good example of this would be me spotting large numbers of baitfish swimming beneath the surface once I'm out of the boat and already wading. Now then, as for what the trout do when it gets cold? Well, I truly believe that anyone who has fished our coastal waters for any fair amount of time probably knows by now that the trout seek the protection of deep water during prolonged cold spells. Keep in mind, however, that the use of the word "deep" here is a relative term – "deep" in one bay system will normally mean something altogether different for any other bay system. For example, deep water in some of our upper Texas coast bays might mean water depths from 10 to 20 feet, whereas in some of the middle and lower Texas coast bays deep water may be defined as being anywhere from 5 to 10 feet. Regardless, the trout look for deeper water when it's cold outside, and they'll be looking for that deeper water to be lined with some dark, sediment-rich, soft mud that will naturally retain the warmth of the sun's rays much longer over that of sand. When I begin working these areas with baits, I'll start by throwing soft-plastic baits and will slightly bump them across the mud bottom at the deepest point as I barely retrieve them. During brief warming trends between frontal passages, the trout will often venture to adjacent shallows located near the deeper water, so if I don't entice any strikes while tossing into the really deep water, I'll slowly begin working my bait across the drop-off or edge. Water clarity is another matter of importance for wintertime fishing. If the water is gin-clear and shallower, I often prefer bright-colored plastics attached to a very lightweight jig-head. If the water is off-color, I'll rig darker lures attached to jig-heads weighted accordingly based upon the depth of the water that I happen to be fishing in at the time. In any case, I'm more than looking forward to fishing during this upcoming winter, and can't help but think this may be one for the record books. I hope to see you out there!
We hoping everyone had a safe and happy Christmas holiday and we want you to remember that it will soon be time to clean and store the guns as we rapidly approach the end of yet another fun-filled and successful waterfowl season. All of us here at Bay Flats Lodge wish you and yours a Happy New Year and an even better 2012 fishing season. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.
December 08, 2011
Coldwater Trout Tactics
by Capt. Chris Martin
"Coldwater Trout Tactics"
by Capt. Chris Martin
December 7, 2011
I was doing a little scouting throughout a three day period of rain that we had here at the beginning of December. The first day of this rainy spell brought with it no changes in weather other than that of precipitation falling from the sky, as air and water temperatures remained unchanged. During the second and the third days
November 30, 2011
"Tis The Season To Be Confident"
by Chris Martin
"TIS THE SEASON TO BE CONFIDENT"
by Capt. Chris Martin
This day presented itself to me with one of the more common complications known to the fishing guide profession. Today's party would be comprised of a mixture of skill sets and experience levels, ranging from the seasoned veteran saltwater enthusiast, the freshwater aficionado yet to test his abilities in the salt, to the beginner who had yet to try fishing of any sort at all.
November 10, 2011
"The Third Day's The Charm"
by Chris Martin
It's now the middle of November, and many coastal anglers who get to fish on a regular basis will have already begun to gear-up for cooler weather by layering their clothing, adjusting their tactics, and then by planning each of their consecutive fishing ventures based upon prior successes from previous days.