Some days, you better have a Plan B
Most fishing guides idle to the dock in the predawn darkness with a plan. Often, according to ever-changing Texas weather, that plan is altered many times before the outboard ever leaves the harbor.
Of course, the plan begins with meeting your customer's wants and needs from the conversation the night before. Some want just speckled trout, some redfish. Some want both. Some just want to catch fish. Some will wade if the weather and fishing calls for it. Some won't consider getting wet, and some want no part of the jetty, surf or Gulf of Mexico.
Anglers claim they fish all the time, have caught huge fish all over the world, have no problem wading or drifting and have owned a boat for most of their lifetime. These days, that is music to the ears of charter captains.
However, reality sets in at gray light as they board your boat, evident by the broomstick resembling a graphite rod or the stocky spinning reel that probably could serve as a winch on your 4x4. They claim they wade all the time, but a late spring cold front blew through two days earlier, dropping water temps to the mid-60s, and they didn't bring waders.
The plan you had gone to bed with the night before is quickly adjusted. Those trout flooding the sand and grass of West Matagorda Bay on the morning incoming tide will have to wait for another day. They will not be seeing a healthy dose of Super Spooks and She Dogs today; instead, the bait camp will get $40 for two quarts of shrimp as you quickly tie on a popping cork and head for the drum-infested reefs along the upper reaches of the bay.
One morning, I totally missed it. A guy told me he wanted to throw topwaters while drifting in East Bay. Not a bad plan, I thought, until he showed up with a Shimano Curado fastened to an 8-foot offshore Ugly Stick.
I didn't say a word to him about his tackle and stuck to the plan. We headed to the east end of East Matagorda Bay and drifted Brown Cedar Flats. The half-day charter produced 10 quality trout, all on She Dogs, and this guy caught half of them on a stick better suited for kingfish 30 miles off the beach.
Then there are days like Wednesday.
I had four guys who could fish. They all had light graphite rods, waders, nets, Shimano bait-casting reels and Bass Assassins tied on the end when they jumped in the boat.
Overnight winds had stained the water I had successfully fished the day before. So I presented the fishing options to them.
"Guys, I know you like to wade and throw plastics and plugs, but we won't catch many fish doing that today," I said.
"If you will be open to something different, we have a good shot at catching some big trout in the middle of East Bay. If not, I think we will struggle with artificials. I will do whatever you want - your call."
One man quickly said, "We want to catch fish!"
So I quickly walked to the bait camp and primed my live well.
Water conditions were better than I expected when we arrived on the south side of the bay. The curse of any charter boat is to catch a fish on the first cast, which we did. Thankfully, the curse was lifted on the next cast and the next and the next.
We didn't catch 30 trout like these well-versed anglers had done before, but we did hit that mark and more with a variety of trout, redfish, black drum, sand trout and croakers.
"In this business, you take what the Good Lord gives you for the day and say 'thank you,'" I told them mid-morning.
I guess they agreed - they booked another trip for June.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).