We were drifting along with a quite blustery wind, across a mud and saw grass flat that was flooded as a result of the high spring tide. We had been catching trout and reds at a rather amazing clip over the past month on this flat and several others like it. The fish seemed to be everywhere.
We would ease far back onto a mud flat that had been flooded by a very high tide, and work the various holes and small creek channels that ran back into that flat. Fish like red drum and seatrout, along with flounder and variety of smaller species, use these flats to feed, looking for small baitfish and crustaceans. As the water runs off one of these flats, the fish follow it into the deeper holes and ultimately out to deeper adjoining water. We had been catching these fish on every outgoing tide from a variety of flats like this for the past month on a Sea Shad Assassin electric chicken colored grub.
But, today, things were different. The electric chicken was coming back to the boat on every cast without a fish attached. Were the fish gone? Had some mysterious tidal occurrence run them off the flat?
As we fished on, it became apparent that the fish were still there. The boat would drift over an oyster cluster in the comparatively deep water and several good sized fish, both trout and reds, would scatter. The fish were there, all right. They just didn’t seem interested in what we were offering.
We all do this so often that we forget that we are doing it. We find a lure that works, and without hesitation, we use that one lure over and over on every trip. If we make a trip and catch very little, we blame it on tides, weather or moon conditions – still fishing with that same lure.
On this trip, I made a change that changed our fishing success. I changed lures, and my partner changed colors on the grubs we were throwing. He put on a glow fire-tail Sea Shad Assassin grub while I changed to a Redfish Magic with a goldfish colored tail.
As honestly as I know how to tell you, I got bit on the spinner on the very next cast. My partner also brought a fish to the boat after several more casts. And, while we didn’t exactly tear them up, as the saying goes, we did manage a respectable catch on this windy day.
Was it that we had not been over fish and the lure change just happened to coincide with our drifting over some hungry fish? I think not. We were over fish the whole tide. Was it cloud cover or tide movement? Perhaps, but I still think not. I believe the key to our success this day was our decision to change lures; change colors; and, change fishing patterns to elicit a strike.
I tried to go back over my logs and see what the conditions had been when we caught fish in this same area over the past month. Perhaps the angle of light on the water or the moon phase had something to do with it. After all, it was an absolute full moon. Whatever the reason, I have it in my log now – what we caught and where we caught it with all the particular circumstances surrounding the catch. Perhaps the most important thing I should log is what lures we used that didn’t catch fish!
I really think the key to our success was the decision to change baits. I’ve known for as many years as I can remember that changing baits can turn on the fish. And, I have to remind myself from time to time to change baits. But like all other anglers, I get hung up on one lure – one that has produced for me in the past – and when that one lures fails me, I tend to blame it on anything but the lure!
Next time you find that the fish just don’t seem interested in your bait, try changing tactics. Go to another bait with another color scheme. It just might turn on the otherwise disinterested fish. And make sure you make a note of what you caught and what you caught them on in your log. Next year around the same time and same tide, you can rely on that log to help you choose a lure!