Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41; No. 4 - FALL 2017 - Page 13

Chasing the Birds Introduction to (Continued from page 10.) Wells Daily Fishing Forecast Tidal Currents are the horizontal move- ment of tide waters. This horizontal movement is the most vital factor in marine life. Because currents control the movement of fish food, they are the only advance predictable factor in the movement of our gamefish. All the other minor factors which effect the movement of fish can only be determined on a day-to-day basis. It can be determined when and where the most fish movement will occur on any given day. You can decide whether to fish the deeper reefs, the close to shore feeding areas or the passes from the Gulf. The “why” it works is known to thou- sands of fishermen who have depended on the Fishing Forecast for 60 years. This explanation is mostly for new (to the Fore- cast) fishermen but regular users can ben- efit by reviewing this information. It is essential to understand that fish food starts moving IN and OUT as soon as a tidal current has gained enough horizon- tal speed to force them in the direction of its flow. The time required for a tidal current to build up to a horizontal speed of at least three tenths of a knot (forcing speed) can be from minutes to several hours. For this reason times given in the column, “Starts”, can never be correlated to the time of High Tide or Low Tide as given in sections of this magazine. The Forecast, therefore, starts with the time when a tidal current has reached nec- essary speed or Forcing Power to start a movement in the direction indicated, either IN or OUT. The second time figure repre- sents the end of the Forcing Power as the current slows down to slack water time. Analyzing the two time figures, we start with the first column, the time when movement starts. This time figure com- pared with the last time on the previous line tells you the length of time since the current moved the fish. If the previous current moved IN, then the fish will still be IN until after starting time on this line. If they were moved OUT on the previous current, then they won’t start IN until after this first time figure. The starting time represents the time when a tidal current has gained speed and force to start movement in the direction indicated. This time figure represents the beginning of a period when you do not have to hunt for your fish. By just being sta- tioned on a known and proven reef or channel leading to or from shallow water, the tidal current will bring the fish to you. (See no. 3 - next column.) These periods of movement will gen- erally provide the best and fastest action of the day because the schools of fish will be concentrated and will always be feeding on their moving and exposed food. Because the best fishing usually oc- curs each day following the time shown in this starting column, the variations in- volved are worth studying. First, a study of flooding or incoming currents shows that the IN movement of fish will be slower and more gradual than the OUT movement on an ebbing current. Fishing will be slower with fairly long in- tervals between schools of fish feeding their way into the shallow water areas. However, the continuing action should hold you at your fishing spot until this movement has ended. On the other hand, when a strong cur- rent begins to ebb or go OUT, it will move everything in a short period of time. Ex- cept when a tide is rated Weak or Very Weak, all the gamefish will be out of shallow water well before the time shown when movement is predicted to end. The column of Current Speed Ratings designates each current by its strongest speed. Each of these ratings represents a definite speed range. These speed ranges are Very Weak; Weak; Moderate; Good; Strong; Very Strong; and, Extra Strong. A current rated Good, for instance, will al- ways have the same strength and speed range regardless of when it occurs, either ebbing or flooding. It is very important to adjust the times as shown in the Fishing Forecasts to the area where you are fishing. The times given are for approximately the center of the various bays. Areas nearer the Gulf passes have movements start- ing earlier, so subtract time from that shown. Fishing areas further into the Bays will have movements starting later than the times given. CURRENT MOVEMENT DAY (1 ) TUE 1 DIR STARTS ENDS (2 ) ( 3 ) (4) I 05:30am 09:50am O 01:15pm 02:35pm O 10:20pm 04:20am* GOOD TO MID-MORNING (6) WED I 06:35am 11:15am 2 O 11:15pm 05:25am* MORNING VERY GOOD STRENGTH (5) Good Very Weak V Strong Strong V Strong2 1. Day and Date 2. Direction of current. (I) Incoming or Flooding. (O) Outgoing or Ebbing. 3. Approximate time that current will exceed .3 knot 4. Approximate time that current will slow below .3 knot. 5. Prediction of current strength. 6. Forecast of overall prospect forthe day. 7. A "1" following the strength rating in dicates a lower low tide than usual; a "2" indicates a higher high. “Seeing a bird diving doesn’t necessarily mean anything,” Abruscato explained. “Birds dive into the water all the time. N ot every bird diving into the water means a school of trout, but with the right birds in the right spot, fishing can be awesome! It’s easy to chase terns and pelicans, but it’s those laughing gulls that really give it away. When they start that laughter, people need to pay attention because something is happening.” Anglers also need to “read” the birds. One or two diving gulls might not mean much, but several excited, noisy birds could indicate where a speck school recently popped up. Nothing gets “bird” anglers more excited than hovering gulls. When trout push bait to the surface, birds fly low over the water trying to grab any morsels they can before others get it. “We want to find tight, confined groups of birds,” recommended Ronnie Daniels in Long Beach, MS (Fisher-Man Guide Services). “They are generally going to be sitting on the water or hovering above it and dropping down to pick off bait while making quite a bit of noise. Once we find the right birds diving, we next look underneath them. Whenever we see shrimp, we’ll typically catch speckled trout.” After spotting bird activity, resist the temptation to charge into the tumult at high speed, shut down the outboard and begin flailing the water. Anglers doing that might catch a fish or two, but trout in open water can spook easily and disperse. Nothing shuts down a feeding school like propellers driven by considerable horsepower. Rather than running into the fish, first determine the best place to begin a drift, based upon wind and water movements. Head to that spot, steering well clear of the school. Stop the boat about 100 yards away from the activity. Let the winds or tides carry the boat into the fish. Use the trolling motor only sparingly to keep the boat going slowly and quietly in the right direction. Avoid jumping around in the boat, banging lids or doing anything else that might send vibrations radiating through the hull into the water. “Watch the direction of the birds closely,” advised Guy Stansel (Hackberry Rod and Gun). “They’ll move with the fish, disappear, pop up and disappear again. Watch the currents. Almost every school of fish will be moving in the same direction on any given day. I find that fish schools move against the current more often than with it. I try to determine which (Continued on page 32.) OCTOBER • NOVEMBER • DECEMBER 2 0 1 7 13