More anglers are choosing to drift rather than wade

June 4, 2011 at 1:04 a.m.

Lighter winds this week allowed boaters and drifters more water to fish as deep reefs in the middle of bay systems became fair game.

Lighter winds this week allowed boaters and drifters more water to fish as deep reefs in the middle of bay systems became fair game.


Blame it on sharks, blame it on stingrays, blame it on flesh-eating Vibrio vulnificus, or maybe just blame it on laziness, whatever the reason, more anglers are opting to stay in the boat. The last decade has seen a shift from wading to drifting. Wading, once the backbone of my charter business, is now only a summer-month thing, and one reason I have upgraded to a 24-foot boat.

Eight hours of drifting in a boat can drive a guy crazy, especially when lead bullets attached to hooks sing across the brim of your cap on multiple casts.

One of the best in the business, wading or drifting for that matter, is Capt. James Plaag of Silver King Adventures in Galveston. As a Texas captain, he has seen his business change, but he says it is all about reading the water.

"Most of my clients are getting older and just want to stay in the boat," said Plaag. "It's still fishing - find the bait and work the tides."

Lower Galveston Bay is a frequent haunt of Plaag's because it has all the amenities a speckled trout could want - food, flowing water and structure. The food is shrimp, shad and mullet, mostly mullet when a trout grows to above 22 inches.. The structure is humps and clumps of oyster shell surrounded by mud, providing ambush points for greedy specks.

It doesn't have to be Galveston Bay, this pattern works anywhere with the above-mentioned ingredients.

Another aspect of fishing I admit that is new to me is live bait. I had always been a plugger, choosing to toss topwaters and/or soft plastics nearly 100 percent of the time. However, change in angler attitude has also resulted in a change in angler aptitude.

In the "good ole' days" fishers wanted to catch a big trout and didn't mind wading for hours for the big bite. Now, time is more precious. The texting generation has distorted patience. It's more, "we just want to catch fish."

Texas enjoys an estimated 2,000 new anglers a month on the brine, that's 24,000 new rookies a year; and, this past year, it seemed like 10,000 of them boarded my boat.

The first five years I owned my boat, I never knew if my live well even worked. Now, in my home waters of Matagorda, especially during the summer, I rarely run a drift-fishing trip without a quart of live shrimp.

Pick a piece of scattered shell, start up wind, then gingerly work the area as anglers fan-cast in every direction. When we hit a fish, I mark it. When we hit another fish, I stab the Power Pole down and work the area more soundly.

I debated for a couple of years before finally installing a Power Pole. I can do a heck of a lot of anchoring for $1,500, plus the labor it takes to install a Power Pole. It wasn't until a good friend of mine worked me a deal I could not refuse that I finally succumbed to all the hype.

Man, has it changed the way I fish for trout.

Rarely when the Power Pole goes down do we draw a blank. Most of the time, we put another half-dozen trout on ice. When the action slows, I pull the pole and keep drifting until I mark another school.

It is precision drifting at its best, and my back and shoulders thank me for it.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed fishing guide ( or



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