Plans, Premonitions, and Paying dues
Last updated 6/21/2022 at 6:56pm
Very seldom, if ever, will you run into anyone who doesn’t like it when everything happens just right. Fishermen especially love it when they plan for a day on the water and everything from the weather to the fish ends up working in their favor. On occasion those types of trips happen and they help to erase the memory of the bad ones from the past. For many of the folks who fish with me the hope of catching just the right day is a high priority, especially the ones that travel great distances to get here. When you base an entire trip on one day the stress of having everything go just as planned is real for both the anglers and the guide because nobody wants to make that trip home disappointed.
In order to offer up the greatest opportunities for customers most guides spend off days doing some sort of scouting, either on their own or using information from other guides they fish with. The constant up to the day reports helps to keep customer trips as productive as possible and also helps to eliminate bad water where valuable time can be lost during a charter. Every so often as a guide you owe it to yourself to get away from the same water you’ve been fishing and check out some other locations. Call it a hunch, call it a premonition, call it what you will, it’s a great feeling when you find the kind of fish you are hoping to find and it spells success for your clients. In many cases the new productive water you find may even offer up an entirely new or different pattern than the one you had been fishing previously. Regardless of the pattern you found it now offers up another option that may be just what you need to be successful and also give you another option if you get limited by some other factors such as weather. Having a quality alternate plan in your hip pocket certainly puts a guide at ease and contributes to a more enjoyable day on the water for everyone.
A perfect example of this type of situation happened to me recently as I was scouting for an upcoming trip where my customers wanted to try and catch some redfish on fly tackle. The conditions here on Sabine and Calcasieu have been the same as everywhere else with really high water levels all over the place. High water in our marshes is not very conducive to sight fishing and that had me worried. Fortunately I was able to locate an area where several good schools of fish were actively schooling and giving up opportunities to be cast at. I spent enough time in the area to catch a couple of fish and then I left them to go check out a few more stretches of water before calling it a day and feeling good about having a solid plan.
The next day I met my anglers who had made the trip from Arizona to see some family and friends as well as go fishing. Both were very excited to chase some fish they had never caught before and were just really happy to see some different sights. It’s always a pleasure to have folks on my boat who are enthusiastic and willing to learn, both anglers fit that description with room to spare. After a short boat ride we arrived at the area where the redfish had been so cooperative and just like you would hope for the plan began to unfold perfectly. Very little, if any wind, made detecting those schooling fish very easy to spot as they were already cruising the shallow water and aggressively feeding. We could not have asked for any better situation.
I climbed up on the poling platform and began to push the boat across the big flat to get us into position to take a shot at one of the schools of redfish and it didn’t take long before we were rewarded for the effort. This pattern held up for a while and made it nice for everyone. Once a school would finally separate or leave it was just a matter of scanning the surface before finding another group of willing redfish to pursue. Around lunch time we were greeted with a light breeze that made the temperatures more than comfortable but a little less than ideal for casting a flyrod. Both anglers were flexible enough to pick up my spinning rods and finish out the day throwing artificial stuff with great success. The day was first rate and the game plan had worked to perfection.
Now chasing these redfish in shallow water is not for everyone, it takes some patience and a plan. Paying your dues on a poling platform in order to set your clients up with the best chance of success is an art. There are plenty of guides along the lower Texas coast who will attest to that fact. TSF Mags own Scott Sommerlatte is one of the best and he has spent a lifetime poling anglers along flats from Mexico to Florida. The art of poling a skiff and reading water is not for the lazy or those afraid of the work that must be invested to be successful. There is actually something almost elegant and gentlemanly about pushing a skiff into position for the perfect cast. Contrast the quiet and stealth like approach of the skiff to those who run fiberglass rocket ships propelled by a zillion horse outboards while steering them from a structure that looks like it was constructed by a scaffold crew and you can see where I’m coming from. Blasting into a marsh pond and herding fish up compared to truly stalking a fish is entirely different mindset. Those that embrace the poling skiff and pay their dues will know a greater sense of satisfaction than those who choose the “invasive” techniques of horsepower and altitude could ever imagine.
We have finally reached the halfway point of the year and some of the best fishing imaginable is on the horizon, unfortunately so are the crowds. Please keep a full tank of courtesy on your boat and respect the other anglers. Also if you get the opportunity take a kid fishing. No school right now means open schedules and endless opportunities to share a day on the water with a kid and introduce them to our sport. Enjoy your time out there and be safe.