Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41; No. 4 - FALL 2017 - Page 12

by Nate Skinner

It s Topwater Time !

I t was evident we were about to be surrounded by a bunch of aggressively feeding fish . Shrimp fled for their lives , scurrying across the water ’ s surface , as we eased up to the mouth of a marsh drain along the main bay shoreline .

As the trolling motor brought us within casting range of the action , my counterpart and I launched our plugs into the middle of the frenzy . We hardly twitched the floating fakes before they were blown up . Two chunky trout exploded on the lures , seemingly in synchronized fashion , and it was game on .
The tide poured out of the small bayou before us , as shrimp , minnows , and finger mullet rode it right into the strike zone . Trout and reds were stacked up and waiting for an easy meal that made targeting them a simple task . The paint on our hard plastic baits didn ’ t stand a chance .
Amongst a brilliant sunrise and a cool , crisp breeze , there was no doubt the catching was going to be excellent . Fall was finally here , and it was topwater time .
As an outdoor scribe , I feel like I ’ ve said this over and over again , but it ’ s only because it is absolutely true — the best fishing of the year is happening right now . No questions asked , fall is my favorite time of year to fish . Scenes like the one described above are the reason why .
When the first cool fronts of the
season reach the Gulf Coast , something happens to the fish within our bays and estuaries . They become ferociously aggressive and hungry .
North winds provide cooler , comfortable temperatures as they play a large role in dropping tides out of the upper reaches of marshes and back lakes . This forces the bait fish that live in these areas to follow the falling water into main bays and estuaries where predators await . The result is an absolute ambush of a feeding frenzy in countless locations .
These fall patterns make the catching pretty simple . Wherever anglers can find moving water filled with shrimp , minnows , shad and mullet , they are likely to find gamefish chomping . There are many ways to catch them , but the most exciting tactic is to draw them
up to the surface .
I don ’ t think there ’ s any angler that would argue against the following statement : Catching fish on topwater baits is just plain fun . There ’ s nothing like a visual experience , and watching trout and reds engulf plugs is as about as good as it gets .
With the fish becoming increasingly active before the onset of winter , fall provides anglers with outstanding topwater action . Whether it ’ s early or late , in the middle of the day , or all night long , surface baits are going to draw magnum strikes . From shallow shorelines to deep open water , it doesn ’ t matter — topwaters produce results during autumn months .
There are a plethora of topwater baits on the market today that come in different shapes and sizes . Each model within this assortment of different plugs makes its own unique , rattling sound . The rattle and vibrations that topwater lures emit through the water column play a large role in coaxing fish to strike .
For many years , bass anglers have raved about the lateral line on largemouth bass . The idea is that pairing noise and vibrations with artificial baits will trigger changes in the lateral line of the fish which should draw more strikes .
The lateral line is composed of sensory receptors that detect vibrations in the water , allowing fish to pinpoint where prey or predators might be in relation to their own body . It ’ s very similar to hearing . This is especially important when their vision may be impaired by low light or murky water .
According to Dr . Greg Stunz , head of Fisheries and Ocean Health at the Harte Research Institute of Gulf of Mexico Studies , redfish and speckled trout also sport this impressive sensory receptor system , even though there is no physical distinction of a lateral line along the sides of their bodies .
“ Although trout and reds do not have a distinct line in their coloration pattern , they still have plenty of sensory receptors that help them feel changes in the water ,” explained Dr . Stunz . “ This is about as close to hearing as they can get without actually having ears .”
Dr . Stunz says the feelings produced by these receptors are so intense that trout and reds can locate a bait that is sending out rattling vibrations without actually looking at it .
“ Even if the target is behind them , below them , or above them , these receptors will tell the fish where they need to strike ,” he elaborated . “ This becomes extremely valuable to these species when the water is murky and
( Continued on page 22 .)
Capt . Tim Young caught this solid trout on the new Bill Lewis StutterStep . MirrOlLure ’ s She Dog , Rapala ’ s Skitter Walk , and Heddon ’ s Super Spook and Spook Jr . have been drawing fish to the surface for years .
Photos by author . 12 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N W W W . G U L F F I S H I N G . C O M
by Nate Skinner It’s Topwater Time! I t was evident we were about to be surrounded by a bunch of aggressively feeding fish. Shrimp fled for their lives, scurrying across the water’s surface, as we eased up to the mouth of a marsh drain along the main bay shoreline. As the trolling motor brought us within casting range of the action, my counterpart and I launched our plugs into the middle of the frenzy. We hardly twitched the floating fakes before they were blown up. Two chunky trout exploded on the lures, seemingly in synchronized fashion, and it was game on. The tide poured out of the small bayou before us, as shrimp, minnows, and finger mullet rode it right into the strike zone. Trout and reds were stacked up and waiting for an easy meal that made targeting them a simple task. The paint on our hard plastic baits didn’t stand a chance. Amongst a brilliant sunrise and a cool, crisp breeze, there was no doubt the catching was going to be excellent. Fall was finally here, and it was topwater time. As an outdoor scribe, I feel like I’ve said this over and over again, but it’s only because it is absolutely true—the best fishing of the year is happening right now. No questions asked, fall is my favorite time of year to fish. Scenes like the one described above are the reason why. When the first cool fronts of the season reach the Gulf Coast, something happens to the fish within our bays and estuaries. They become ferociously aggressive and hungry. North winds provide cooler, comfortable tem- peratures as they play a large role in dropping tides out of the upper reaches of marshes and back lakes. This forces the bait fish that live in these areas to follow the falling water into main bays and estuaries where predators await. The result is an absolute ambush of a feeding frenzy in countless locations. These fall patterns make the catching pretty simple. Wherever anglers can find moving water filled with shrimp, minnows, shad and mullet, they are likely to find gamefish chomping. There are many ways to catch them, but the most exciting tactic is to draw them up to the surface. I don’t think there’s any angler that would argue against the following statement: Catching fish on topwater baits is just plain fun. There’s nothing like a visual experience, and watching trout and reds engulf plugs is as about as good as it gets. With the fish becoming increasingly active before the onset of winter, fall provides anglers with outstanding topwater action. Whether it’s early or late, in the middle of the day, or all night long, surface baits are going to draw magnum strikes. From shallow shorelines to deep open water, it doesn’t matter—topwaters produce results during autumn months. There are a plethora of topwater baits on the market today that come in different shapes and sizes. Each model within this assortment of different plugs makes its own unique, rattling sound. The rattle and vibrations that topwater lures emit through the water column play a large role in coaxing fish to strike. For many years, bass anglers have raved about the lateral line on largemouth bass. The idea is that pairing noise and vibrations with artificial baits will trigger changes in the lateral line of the fish which should draw more strikes. The lateral line is composed of sensory receptors that detect vibrations in the water, allowing fish to pinpoint where prey or predators might be in relation to their own body. It’s very similar to hearing. This is especially important when their vision may be impaired by low light or murky water. According to Dr. Greg Stunz, head of Fisheries and Ocean Health at the Harte Research Institute of Gulf of Mexico Studies, redfish and speckled trout also sport this impressive sensory receptor system, even though there is no physical distinction of a lateral line along the sides of their bodies. “Although trout ɕ́Ёٔ)ѥЁѡȁɅѥѕɸ)ѡѥٔ䁽͕ͽɕѽ)ѡЁѡ́ѡ݅ѕȳt)ȸMչ踃qQ́́Ё)͔Ѽɥ́ѡ䁍Ёݥѡ)Յ䁡٥̻t)ȸMչ́ͅѡ́ɽՍ)ѡ͔ɕѽ́ɔͼѕ͔ѡЁɽ)ɕ́єЁѡЁ͕́)ЁɅѱ٥Ʌѥ́ݥѡЁՅ)Ёи+qٕѡхɝЁ́ѡ)܁ѡȁٔѡѡ͔)ɕѽ́ݥѕѡ͠ݡɔѡ)ѼɥtɅѕqQ)́ɕمՅѼѡ͔)́ݡѡ݅ѕȁ́ɭ䁅( ѥՕȸ) иQeչ՝Ёѡ́ͽɽЁѡ܁ 1ݥ́MѕMѕ5=1ɗéMIe)Mѕȁ]!éMȁMM)ȸٔɅݥ͠Ѽѡəȁ啅̸Aѽ́䁅ѡȸ()T0 <LP$L H48)\\\T0$L $8 <4