Avoid inevitable spring crowds to find incredible catches
In early April, two major trends were gaining momentum along the upper Texas coast — the start of some of the best fishing action of the year, and the not-so-glamorous act of social distancing. Luckily for us, excellent angling opportunities will continue to increase throughout May.
Even if it’s still necessary to practice social distancing, fishing is a great outdoor activity that falls in line with the theme of keeping to yourself. In fact, anglers who find ways to avoid the inevitable summertime crowds that soon will flock to our estuarine waters likely will catch more fish.
Feeding activity among a variety of species inhabiting our bays is increasing by the day. Meanwhile, warming weather will inspire more people to recreate along inshore waters, whether they’re fishing or not.
Increased water traffic adds pressure on our bay systems. There are ways to overcome this hurdle, however, and take advantage of the aggressive activity among gamefish that will mark the next several months.
One way to avoid crowds is to get out of the boat and wade fish. If you don’t have access to a boat, there are plenty of equally productive places to wade in from the shore. Either way, I think you’ll find that more and more folks are becoming unwilling to get in the water and walk amongst the fish they pursue.
Some may pose the question, “Why would I get out of a perfectly good boat?” Others would just rather stay dry and avoid encountering the unknowns that lie beneath the surface. Regardless of their reasoning for avoiding the brine, excellent opportunities along shallow stretches that can be covered more thoroughly by standing in the water will be left for those willing to get wet.
Another strategy to stay hooked up during summertime crowds is keeping an open mind about conditions and location. It’s almost a guarantee that traffic jams will ensue at boat ramps when ice cream conditions prevail. Most anglers dream about days with glassed-out bay waters and light winds. Yes, plenty of fish can be caught in those conditions, but the fish also bite during strong winds and changing weather.
That’s not to say you should be foolish about your safety for the sake of catching a fish. Thunderstorms and gale-force winds definitely create hazards. Anglers should always be aware of their surroundings and have a plan in case weather conditions rapidly decline.
But fish have to eat regardless of what’s going on above the surface. Some of the most impressive catches I’ve ever witnessed during May have occurred when most folks thought it was too windy to put forth the effort.
Forever ingrained in my mind is a day my buddy Michael Plitt and I landed 10 speckled trout of more than 5 pounds in East Galveston Bay. I can’t remember the exact date, but it was about mid-month. The wind was howling out of the southwest and the water across the flat we were fishing looked like chocolate milk.
The specks didn’t care. They crushed our topwater plugs with authority, and the largest one, landed by Plitt, measured 32.5 inches and weighed 10.25 pounds. To this day, it is still the biggest trout I have ever seen in person.
Keeping an open mind about location also is important. The road less traveled is often full of rewards, and waters that are left untapped might just be holding a ton of quality specimens. Exploring new areas that most folks pass right on by can pay off.
Stay safe, stay healthy and make good decisions both on and off the water. Increasing crowds across our bays and marshes is inevitable for the foreseeable future, but so are incredible catches. Get out there and find ways to adapt, overcome, catch more fish and make some memories.