Prospecting with a purpose
Last updated 7/27/2021 at 8:36pm
As I ease the truck forward out of the launch I can already see the blur of motion in the rear view mirror, a cat squirrel with Costa Del Mar sunglasses disguised as a fisherman has begun to clean and straighten up what little mess that has been made in the 5 whole minutes he has been on board. I patiently wait at the dock until the deck of his ultra cool Hell's Bay Waterman is exactly as he likes it and ready for my arrival. My partner for the day and the one responsible for the immaculate appearance of the boat is none other than my good friend Captain James Trimble, or as most folks know him "Capn Trim". Trim has been bitten by the shallow water bug and it has infected his entire world to say the least. The guy is an extremely talented and accomplished fisherman in just about any depth of water or under any set of circumstances but the chasing fish in the skinny stuff is a new and challenging concept that he has fallen in love with. His enthusiasm for the sport and this style of fishing is how we became friends and it's what makes those days on the water fishing together that much better.
Our trip goal was to find fish for an upcoming tournament that Trim and his partner were entered in. First order of business was to formulate a game plan based on a few factors. First were weather conditions, especially wind. Since we were in Trim's skiff the thought of tackling Sabine lake open water in high winds was not anywhere on the "to do" list. Calm mornings meant running as far south as possible and fishing our way back in order to have the wind and seas in our favor. I know each of us has a go to weather source either on the web, tv or radio, mine is www.weatherunderground.com and I live and die with their wind forecast. According to the website the wind was due to kick up strong around noon so we opted for a big run at daylight which worked out perfectly.
Our first stretch of water found us trying to locate fish with lures that allowed us to cover large amounts water. Topwater plugs, spoons, and spinnerbaits are perfect for this task. Once a fish or two was caught then a more refined approach begins. Figuring out the pattern and then establishing which lure offers up the best odds of consistently catching those fish was the next goal. I have to admit that I am guilty of not changing from topwater plugs to other offerings that may catch more fish due to the fact that the surface strikes are just way more fun. I know I could catch more fish on a weightless soft plastic or a spoon but it just doesn't do it for me sometimes. Guilty as charged.
The first redfish of the day took a mighty swipe at the She Pup I was throwing and missed the first time only to come back and finish the job. It was not long before we had another solid tournament class fish inhale the same plug. Both fish were solid 7 pounders and that proved to be a great start. A short trip down the same shoreline produced another quality fish from almost the same type structure, a pattern was starting to form. After a few pictures and a nice release of that fish it was my turn to push the boat and let Trim fish. Spending a day on the water with another guide is a really nice change of pace, a type of "holiday" that only comes around every now and again. It's always enjoyable to share a boat with another person who has the same interests as you do, makes the day that much better.
It wasn't long before Trim had his first redfish on and doing it's best to test his drag. At this point we decided we had found a viable pattern and area that would give them a good starting point so we were now free to explore some other options. Now is when we were glad that we had run so far south early that morning because the wind was beginning to howl from the southeast. The small skiff hugged the bank and we remained surprisingly dry all the way to the next stop. It was here that we began to cull out bad water for later scouting trips that week. Finding and eliminating bad areas are just as much of the scouting plan as finding fish. By being able to concentrate on good water and not wondering about some place else an angler can relax and fish an area more thorough and with more confidence. By having a good game plan and sticking to it a team maximizes their fishing time in a given day. Time spent running and looking on tournament day translates into failure most of the time. There will always be that time someone stumbles up on some fish that they had not seen or found previously but those cases are rare. The anglers that scout with a purpose and are well prepared will usually come out on top in the long run.
After probing a few more locations we were basically at the mercy of the wind and decided to look at one more place that was as out of the wind as we could find. We turned the skiff and allowed the wind to push us along as we made long casts along a shallow flat. It didn't take long for an oversized redfish to punish Trim's plug and head out for parts unknown. The healthy 10 pound fish finally came to the boat after an extended battle. All we could do was laugh as we looked at how far down in the fish's throat the topwater plug was, it was absolutely inhaled. Fortunately enough we were able to free the plug and release the fish unharmed to fight another day. A fitting way to end an exceptional day on the water. Hopefully the lessons learned on this scout mission will translate into a big check for Capn Trim and his partner come tournament time.