Dropping winter tides challenge Spring Breakers
March 17, 2014 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated March 16, 2014 at 10:17 p.m.
Low tides, cold, cloudy water and northwest winds are nothing new for March. It certainly can make for a tough day of fishing if you are not privy to deep holes and guts.
Those back bay areas that so often provide refuge from the wind were drained almost 3 feet in most estuaries this week.
So where do you find fishable waters?
Cuts and channels have been my focus. Though waters have been chocolate in the bay, falling tides from the back lakes have ushered clear water through the cuts.
This week, a day after winds blew in excess of 30 knots and tides dropped about 3 feet, redfish could be found in holes and guts stacked tight around reefs near channels.
I have also waded the edges of channels with heavy jigs on the incoming tide, bouncing soft plastics on the bottom. Sensitive graphite rods and braided lines have been a must, especially when the tide is really rolling. Sometimes, all you feel is the slightest twinge of the fish closing its mouth on the bait.
Live bait has been the best bet for drifters. Remember: Fish still feed in muddy water, and oftentimes what seems off-colored on the surface is clearer a few feet down in a deep channel. Nevertheless, a live shrimp has proven its worth lately, not to mention a pearl-colored Gulp shrimp under a popping cork. Though visibility has been limited, the smell and sound factor from scented baits under a rattling cork has kept anglers in the game.
Oil and gas well in the bays should hold quality fish. Most are stationed in at least 10 feet of water with shell pads around the legs of the well, perfect terrain for fish to stage and cool off. Again, though the water may seem off-colored on the surface, often it is much clearer on the bottom. Work the entire water column with baits. Sometimes, the fish can be caught under a popping cork. Sometimes, they can be coaxed with jigs, and sometimes, a free-lined shrimp is the answer. Those prepared for all the above scenarios have a better chance of scoring.
Remember those shorelines with low-tide reefs and sand flats exposed? Somewhere adjacent to those pieces of shell and sand is a gut, and chances are a redfish or two can be found in those holes. Think about those days you waded to your chest in June - those same locales are probably waist-deep now.
With an incoming morning tide, these spots and the fish that linger nearby are just waiting for fresh tides to usher shrimp, shad and mullet to these hangouts, not to mention your live shrimp or darting soft plastic.
Use the tides to your advantage. Knowing and learning where fish go during periods of low water will help you find fins the next time tides plummet.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (firstname.lastname@example.org).