I experimented with a couple of my favorite spots a while back and came up with some interesting information – not that I will share the exact spot (I may be dumb, but I am not that dumb!) but I will share how I made a good spot better.
Know the BottomIf you are catching fish in a location it’s because there is something there that is attracting and/or holding the fish. It could be the presence of bait. It could be the bottom structure – one that allows the fish an ambush location in the tidal current. It could be an eddy around a point. The idea is that something attracts and holds fish in this one location.
I made numerous trips to my one trial site to check out the bottom and find out what was going on. I went at high tide, low tide and in-between tide. I sat and studied the tidal current to see if I could determine what was going on. I probed the depth levels with my poling pole to see if there was anything on the bottom. And, I watched for baitfish movement.
What I found was that there was a large rock or hard bottom outcrop that came off the bottom about three feet. The water here is about 12 feet deep at high tide and we have a four foot tidal swing in our area. So, when the tide moves – either direction - there is an underwater eddy around that outcropping – an ideal ambush situation for fish like flounder and redfish.
Know the Surrounding AreaMy spot is located in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) off the mouth of a creek. On one side is a salt marsh that floods at high tide. On the other side is the deeper channel of the ICW. As a part of my trial, I went at high tide and just watched the water. I went at low tide and watched. And I went while the tide was coming in and going out. I just sat and observed and made mental notes on what was going on. I have a fishing spot in 12 feet of water, off the mouth of a creek, close to a tidal marsh and bordered by the ICW channel. I have an ideal mix of structure, shallow water, deep water and tidal current. What I needed to know was how all of this fit together to produce fish.
Look for BaitWhat I found as I watched turned out to be the key – baitfish. Schools of finger mullet were moving through the area with the tidal current. They were not present at the high slack tide and they were not present at the low slack tide. But as the tide came up about half way, they showed up, moving along the channel edge and back into the salt marsh. When the tide started rolling out they came off the marsh and moved back along the channel edge. The last half of the outgoing tide and first on the incoming produced no baitfish. They were always there on the top of the tide.
Bottom LineTo put all this together, here is what I found during my research on just this one little spot where I catch fish. I have some bottom structure that offers an ambush opportunity in an area that attracts baitfish. The baitfish move on and off the salt marsh at high water, and they move right through this ambush area.
When I sat and thought about it, I realized that I really did not catch many fish here on a low tide. This has always been one of my high tide locations. What my investigation proved was that the fish were following the food chain, and the food was not there at low tide. I have stopped here in the past at low tide on many occasions, thinking maybe there would be some fish here. I never found them. This little exercise proved to me why! And all I had to do was pay attention to the details!
Now when I plan a trip in the area, I make sure I hit this location on the high water side of the tide, and only when the tidal current is moving. If I know I’m fishing the outgoing tide cycle down to low and back up, I leave this particular spot off my plan. Now, I just need to do this on all the other places I fish!