That’s a paddlin’! Tales and observations from a floating piece of plastic
By Brandon Rowan
“Yup that’s the spot.” In the back of the marsh, far removed from the beaten path and at least several miles away from the launch. Yup, that’s the one.”
I don’t know about you, but that train of thought has definitely danced across my mind while scanning Google Earth for that new honey hole. I mean, the extra effort and difficulty will reap equal rewards right? That sometimes rings very true but is not always the case.
I made it a point to get out, paddle and explore new areas this year. Numerous trips in, I started noticing a trend: a surprising amount of good catches came from spots I typically passed during the journey to the “honey hole.”
Sometimes it was a shad flip, a hovering bird, or even a last ditch effort that put me on a location but you can’t argue with results of trout, redfish and flounder. Believe me, I won’t discount these ‘easy’ spots in the future.
HEAD ON A SWIVEL
Even subtle signs, like a single shad or mullet flip, can expose feeding fish underneath an otherwise calm water surface. Hell, what’s one more extra cast? Plus, it’s a pretty triumphant moment when the thump of a good fish confirms your suspicions.
Birds can be your guide in the marsh too. Hovering terns and gulls are a dead give away to activity but don’t discount shore walkers, like the Spoonbill. Their lives depend on their ability to find bait. Where there’s bait, there are predators.
MEAT’S ALWAYS ON THE MENU
Knowledge of your area and the available forage through each season is crucial. Late winter and early spring was a great time to throw mullet imitations and I leaned on topwaters and big plastics like the Down South Lures super model.
But the days lengthened, the trees began to bloom and it wasn’t long before the bay was flush with freshly hatched bait species. Predators don’t overthink fishing locations and easy spots. They are opportunistic feeders and love easy meals. Later in spring, I starting throwing small baitfish imitations, like the smaller sized Rapala Twitchin’ Mullet.
One foggy April afternoon I was rewarded with a beautiful 27” speckled trout. I found her intercepting small shad forced back into the cove by a hard wind driven current. After a spirited fight, measurement and quick picture, I set her free and watched her swim away strong.
Looking ahead to May and June, shrimp imitations will be a good bet. The surf is going to start looking real flat and I’ll be ditching the kayak for west end beach wading or seawall rock hopping. I love catching trout on topwater, but by far some of my most productive days have come from rigging a clear/gold D.O.A. Shrimp under a popping cork.
Glassy surf and its fishy possibilities are the stuff of dreams. But the stout early summer winds of the upper coast are often our reality. If that’s the case, you’ll find me in my favorite stretch of marsh chasing redfish. They eat small in my spot and rarely turn down a 2” Vudu Shrimp under a short leader and oval cork.
It’s about to get hot my friends so take care to keep yourself hydrated and safe. I hope to see you all out there!