Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41; No. 4 - FALL 2017 - Page 32

Chasing the Birds
( Continued from page 13 .)
direction the fish are moving and get ahead of them so the fish come to me . The key is to keep quiet to avoid spooking the fish and make as long a cast as possible .”
Anglers can find good bird activity any day anywhere along the Gulf Coast , but the best action normally occurs in the fall and to a lesser extent in the spring . As temperatures drop in the fall , shrimp migrate from the bays and estuaries to deeper water . In the spring , shrimp return to the estuaries . Nothing kicks off a trout feeding frenzy like a shrimp migration .
“ Those transition times in the spring and fall are usually when the shrimp are on the move ,” Abruscato explained . “ When the shrimp move , the trout and everything else follows them .
Bait sometimes flies off the hook or fish snatch it as soon as it touches the water . Therefore , many anglers stick with soft plastics . Anything that mimics a shrimp makes an excellent choice . Some people throw jigheads tipped with softplastic shrimp or minnow imitations . When targeting schooling trout , use the lightest weight possible since fish hang near the surface . Unweighted shrimp imitations can work , but the light baits make casting long distances difficult .
“ About 90 percent of the time , we throw weighted popping corks for more casting range ,” Daniels commented . “ Under the cork , we ’ ll add about an 18- to 24-inch leader tipped with a 1 / 4 ounce jighead and a Matrix Shad or Vudu Shrimp . Tandem rigs can be fun to fish , too , under birds , either with or without a cork . When a fish hits it , reel just fast enough to keep tension on the line . Another fish might hit that second bait .”
Anglers chasing diving birds can quickly land limits of keepers , but probably won ’ t catch many lunkers . However , bigger trout sometimes hover just below smaller schoolies .
“ Smaller fish are typically a lot more active and aggressive ,” Daniels detailed . “ Bigger trout tend to hang lower in the water column and pick what they want to eat . If we pull up on a group of birds and catch five or six undersize trout , we ’ ll put on a bait that goes to the bottom . We ’ ll try to get deeper to see if there are any bigger fish beneath the school .”
Besides specks , anglers chasing birds might also catch white trout , gafftopsail catfish , Spanish mackerel , bluefish and other species . Off the Florida Panhandle , flocking birds frequently mean big redfish herding menhaden or other baitfish instead of shrimp .
“ We never know what might be under the birds until we go look ,” said Josh Calhoon in Destin , FL ( Destin Inshore Guides ). “ We see many redfish and jack crevalle chasing pogies around here . We ’ ve also caught Spanish mackerel and other fish . We like to use swimbaits or live baits around schools .”
Few people leave the dock planning to pursue birds all day , but anglers who keep some binoculars handy with an eye on the sky could instantly turn a humdrum day into a memorable experience if they learn to “ read ” their feathered scouts . Guide Services Featured :
Angling Adventures of Louisiana ( 877 ) -4-AAOFLA - www . aaofla . com ) A-Team Fishing Adventures ( 251-661-7696 , www . ateamfishing . com )
Castaway Lodge ( 888-618-4868 , www . seadriftbayfishing . com )
Fisher-Man Guide Services ( 228-323-1115 , msfisherman . com )
Hackberry Rod and Gun ( 888-762- 3391 , www . hackberryrodandgun . com )
Destin Inshore Guides ( 850-502- 9170 , www . destininshoreguides . com )
Western Gulf Flounder
( Continued from page 14 .)
they are staging in the shallows , they ’ re there to feed and they will stage on sandy bottoms . I catch a lot of my flounder out of the sand holes along the edges . So , in the fall I ’ ll start setting up on points and cuts and sand flats . I ’ ll be keying on mullet and pinfish and looking for areas with good water flow . I ’ ll also fish the grass banks that drop into a deep trough and have good water flow . I ’ ll go along fishing all of the eddies that are formed by the current . Finding moving water is really the key .”
“ They also like seawalls , piers , pilings – any structure like that ,” added Ellis . “ And , in the fall , they often hang at the base of jetties in the surf . In the bay , they ’ ll move into sandy areas . Sand bars , or any high spots that are sandy and have deep water around them – submerged spoils islands are something to look for and are really good . Also check out any rivers flowing into the bay .”
“ Even in the fall , though , we ’ ll be catching flounder from the potholes ,” Mahl stated . “ Flounder love those sandy potholes and are known for just moving from hole to hole . When one flounder leaves a good hole , another just moves in .
“ When the water is lower , those channels and little secondary channels is where they ’ ll be . You can also find some good flounder on a flooded mud flat . Find a good flood tide with a good wind direction that has pushed stuff up against spoils banks and that ’ s where you ’ ll find those giant flounder . Those bigger ones seem to like that 8 to 10 inches of water . They ’ ll be up there chasing bait just like a snook or trout would . In fact , those are the ones we usually catch on topwaters up against flooded mangrove edges and places like that .”
Regardless of the bay system they are fishing , all of the pros agree that speed and scent make a huge difference when fishing for flounder . Obviously , lots of flatties will be taken on natural baits , but artificials work , too . However , tipping artificials , or using scented lures such as Mister Twister Exude , or Berkley GULP !, up the odds . But , whatever they throw , fishermen need to work it slow to consistently catch flounder .
“ Most of the time , we ’ ll be using live mullet Carolina rigged ,’” said Verm . “ We ’ ll use some artificials , too , but the biggest fish always seem to come on mullet .”
“ We ’ re usually throwing GULP ! if we ’ re fishing for flounder – just dragging it real slow ,” said Black .
“ I like throwing Down South Southern Shad ,” Foreman stated . “ But , if I ’ m fishing for flounder , I ’ m going to tip my jig with something . I ’ ve used bits of dead shrimp , Fish Bites , ProCure Gel – there are lots of ways to do it , but adding scent to the lure really helps when flounder fishing .”
“ I like GULP ! or fish imitating plastics ,” said Ellis . “ They eat fish more than shrimp – especially big flounder . Plus , our shrimp population hasn ’ t been as good the last few years , so we are more likely to catch good flounder on baitfish imitations . And , you have a better chance of them hanging on a little longer with scented bait .”
“ I catch flounder on a lot of different baits ,” said Mahl . “ Really , the key seems to be slowing down the bait and letting it sit in the potholes a little longer . If you do slow down your presentations going through the holes , you ’ ll almost guarantee you ’ ll catch them . A lot of times , I ’ ll use a tandem rig with a 1 / 8 ounce head on back and 1 / 16 ounce on top . I ’ ll have a jerkshad on top and GULP ! Shrimp on bottom . Or , sometimes , I put a mud minnow on bottom and jerkshad on top , and just work it real slow . That mud minnow is kind of swimming and jiggles the jerkshad .
“ Really , you have to fish like you ’ re on tranquilizers if you want to consistently catch flounder ,” added Ellis . “ It is a slow man ’ s game fishing for flounder .
GCF
32 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
Chasing the Birds (Continued from page 13.) direction the fish are moving and get ahead of them so the fish come to me. The key is to keep quiet to avoid spooking the fish and make as long a cast as possible.” Anglers can find good bird activity any day anywhere along the Gulf Coast, but the best action normally occurs in the fall and to a lesser extent in the spring. As temperatures drop in the fall, shrimp migrate from the bays and estuaries to deeper water. In the spring, shrimp return to the estuaries. Nothing kicks off a trout feeding frenzy like a shrimp migration. “Those transition times in the spring and fall are usually when the shrimp are on the move,” Abruscato explained. “When the shrimp move, the trout and everything else follows them. Bait sometimes flies off the hook or fish snatch it as soon as it touches the water. Therefore, many anglers stick with soft plastics. Anything that mimics a shrimp makes an excellent choice. Some people throw jigheads tipped with soft- plastic shrimp or minnow imitations. When targeting schooling trout, use the lightest weight possible since fish hang near the surface. Unweighted shrimp imitations can work, but the light baits make casting long distances difficult. “About 90 percent of the time, we throw weighted popping corks for more casting range,” Daniels commented. “Under the cork, we’ll add about an 18- to 24-inch leader tipped with a 1/4 ounce jighead and a Matrix Shad or Vudu Shrimp. Tandem rigs can be fun to fish, too, under birds, either with or without a cork. When a fish hits it, reel just fast enough to keep tension on the line. Another fish might hit that second bait.” Anglers chasing diving birds can quickly land limits of keepers, but probably won’t catch many lunkers. However, bigger trout sometimes hover just below smaller schoolies. “Smaller fish are typically a lot more active and aggressive,” Daniels detailed. “Bigger trout tend to hang lower in the water column and pick what they want to eat. If we pull up on a group of birds and catch five or six undersize trout, we’ll put on a bait that goes to the bottom. We’ll try to get deeper to see if there are any bigger fish beneath the school.” Besides specks, anglers chasing birds might also catch white trout, gafftopsail catfish, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and other species. Off the Florida Panhandle, flocking birds frequently mean big redfish herding menhaden or other baitfish instead of shrimp. 32 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N “We never know what might be under the birds until we go look,” said Josh Calhoon in Destin, FL (Destin Inshore Guides). “We see many redfish and jack crevalle chasing pogies around here. We’ve also caught Spanish mackerel and other fish. We like to use swimbaits or live baits around schools.” Few people leave the dock planning to pursue birds all day, but anglers who keep some binoculars handy with an eye on the sky could instantly turn a humdrum day into a memorable experience if they learn to “read” their feathered scouts. Guide Services Featured: Angling Adventures of Louisiana (877)-4-AAOFLA - www.aaofla.com) A-Team Fishing Adventures (251-661-7696, www.ateamfishing.com) Castaway Lodge (888-618-4868, www.seadriftbayfishing.com) Fisher-Man Guide Services (228-323-1115, msfisherman.com) Hackberry Rod and Gun (888-762- 3391, www.hackberryrodandgun.com) Destin Inshore Guides (850-502- 9170, www.destininshoreguides.com) Western Gulf Flounder (Continued from page 14.) they are staging in the shallows, they’re there to feed and they will stage on sandy bottoms. I catch a lot of my flounder out of the sand holes along the edges. So, in the fall I’ll start setting up on points and cuts and sand flats. I’ll be keying on mullet and pinfish and looking for areas with good water flow. I’ll also fish the grass banks that drop into a deep trough and have good water flow. I’ll go along fishing all of the eddies that are formed by the current. Finding moving water is really the key.” “They also like seawalls, piers, pilings – any structure like that,” added Ellis. “And, in the fall, they often hang at the base of jetties in the surf. In the bay, they’ll move into sandy areas. Sand bars, or any high spots that are sandy and have deep water around them – submerged spoils islands are something to look for and are really good. Also check out any rivers flowing into the bay.” “Even in the fall, though, we’ll be catching flounder from the potholes,” Mahl stated. “Flounder love those sandy potholes and are known for just moving from hole to hole. When one flounder leaves a good hole, another just moves in. “When the water is lower, those channels and little secondary channels is where they’ll be. You can also find some good flounder on a flooded mud flat. Find a good flood tide with a good wind direction that has pushed stuff up against spoils banks and that’s where you’ll find those giant flounder. Those bigger ones seem to like that 8 to 10 inches of water. They’ll be up there chasing bait just like a snook or trout would. In fact, those are the ones we usually catch on topwaters up against flooded mangrove edges and places like that.” Regardless of the bay system they are fishing, all of the pros agree that speed and scent make a huge difference when fishing for flounder. Obviously, lots of flatties will be taken on natural baits, but artificials work, too. However, tipping artificials, or using scented lures such as Mister Twister Exude, or Berkley GULP!, up the odds. But, whatever they throw, fishermen need to work it slow to consistently catch flounder. “Most of the time, we’ll be using live mullet Carolina rigged,’” said Verm. “We’ll use some artificials, too, but the biggest fish always seem to come on mullet.” “We’re usually throwing GULP! if we’re fishing for flounder – just dragging it real slow,” sa +q$ѡɽݥݸMѠ)MѡɸMtɕхѕq а)'e͡ȁչȰ'eѼ)ѥ䁩ݥѠͽѡ'e͕ٔ)͡ɥ͠ ѕ̰Aɽ ɔ+Lѡɔɔ́݅́ѼаЁ)͍ЁѼѡɔɕ䁡́ݡ)չȁ͡t+q$U1@ȁ͠хѥ)ѥ̳t̸ͅqQ䁕Ё͠ɔ)ѡ͡ɥL䁉չȸ)A̰ȁ͡ɥձѥͻeЁ)́ѡЁ܁啅̰ͼݔɔɔ)Ѽэչȁљ͠)хѥ̸ԁٔѕȁ)ѡѱȁݥѠ)͍ѕлt+q$эչȁЁɕ)̳tͅ5qI䰁ѡ͕)ѼͱݥݸѡЁѥ)ͥЁѡѡ́ѱȸ%)ͱ܁ݸȁɕ͕хѥ́)ѡɽ՝ѡ̰׊e)ՅɅѕ׊eэѡЁ)ѥ̰'e͔хɥݥѠļ)չļ؁չ)ѽ'eٔɭ͡ѽ)U1@Mɥѽ=Ȱ)ͽѥ̰$ЁՐ܁)ѽɭ͡ѽЁݽɬ)ЁɕͱܸQЁՐ܁́)ݥ́ѡɭ͡+qI䰁ԁٔѼ͠׊eɔ)Ʌե́ԁ݅ЁѼ)ͥѕѱ䁍эչȳt̸+q%Ё́ͱ܁é͡)չȸ) )\\\T0$L $8 <4