Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 39 No 2 - Spring 2015 | Page 11

Gulf Coast Closeup by Danno Wise Quick Drift Strategies for the Lower Laguna Madre S pring along the Gulf Coast means warmer weather, more dramatic tidal movement and, most of all, strong winds. The higher than normal wind velocity is often a game changer for coastal fishermen, many of whom are accustomed to drift fishing inshore lakes and bays. The most obvious effects of the higher winds on drift fishermen are rougher water and faster drifts. Most often, fishermen simply look for protected water. However, sometimes the best concentrations of fish are not in protected coves, but rather right out in the middle of wind-blown flats. Fishermen hoping to be able to productively fish these areas under high wind conditions should learn to use spring winds to their advantage, rather than looking for a way to avoid unprotected areas. Probably the one thing drift fishermen struggle with the most under high wind conditions is being able to thoroughly cover an area with repeated casts. Essentially, a quick drift speed means fewer casts in a given area, as the boat passes over the area too quickly to allow multiple casts. Of course, there are various ways to slow the boat in order to get more casts in over a productive stretch of water. Anchoring and staking out at various intervals along a flat will accomplish this. And, most every seasoned bay fisherman knows to employ a drift sock to help slow their drift and stabilize the boat. But, at times these measures can be more trouble than they are worth. Typically, by late March, the water has usually warmed sufficiently to make fish more aggressive, meaning “power fishing” tactics are in play. So, rather than spend too much time and energy trying to fight the wind, anglers should learn to adapt their fishing style in order to take advantage of strong spring winds. A very simple solution to many high wind situations is something many fishermen refer to as “power drifting.” This is basically a mad dash across a flat while fan casting and trying to cover as much water as possible. Power drifting is effective in two situations: 1) fish are scattered making it necessary to cover massive amounts of water; or, 2) fish are very aggressive and willing to swim a pretty good distance to attack a bait. One, or both, of these conditions is often present during April. Drift Strategies In order to be effective with power drifting, there are a couple of things that need to be considered. For starters, the right type of bait or lure is essential. Because you will be moving a quick clip during a power drift, finesse baits or any other lures which require a slow retrieve are a poor choice. It is far too difficult to maintain line contact with a slow sinking or suspending bait when drifting rapidly toward it. Also, baits which require a lot of angler manipulation to impart action are not a good choice. Twitching baits at a high drift speed usually result in line twists and tangles. Rather, it is better to use simple cast and reel retrieve baits such as paddle tail soft-plastics and spoons. If using soft-plastic tails, it is usually best to use a bit heavier (1/4 or 3/8 ounce) jig head than may generally be