During the early part of the summertime, outdoor situations are continually different from day to day. I’ve noticed that it’s tough trying to stay on fish such as speckled trout. They will be in one area one day and then seem to disappear. Some of the more experienced guides have so many productive areas in their repertoire that they do catch fish on most days. Weather conditions as well as water conditions are governing factors as to where a good place to begin might be. Knowing this, the rest of us can go to once productive areas and do the trial-and-error search. What’s really fun is deciding whether to stay in the lakes and bays or to head outside to try to locate schools of the fish that we are after that day.
If you are one of the anglers that enjoy being afloat at first hint of daylight, some topwater action is possible. The shallow water along the shorelines and the beach will cool down some at night and the bait will move to those areas that are comfortable to them. Where goes the bait also goes the predatory fish. Noisy lures with rattlers inside seem to be the ticket on most mornings. That, however, is not always the case. Shallow diving crank baits, free floating plastics and, of course, live bait will all take speckled trout and redfish in the shallow water. The ticket to this topwater action is to locate the schools of baitfish or shrimp. Also, should there be evidence of a predatory fish swimming or striking in the area, that would be a great place to begin. The early morning action in the shallows will last until the sun has time to warm the water. Whenever that happens, the majority of the fish move out to deeper cooler water areas. They don’t necessarily quit feeding; they simply change locations.
By heading to one of the shell reefs and casting ahead of the boat, drifting could be the next bonanza. Most of the time, when either specks or reds are on the reefs and bait fish come along, the bait and the fish will head for the surfaces. Whenever that happens most of the time seagulls will tell you where the action is. That’s especially the case when they are feeding on shrimp. Whenever the predatory fish are after baitfish such as shad, mullet or ribbonfish, the hungry fish can be seen, as can the prey. That’s especially the case when the specks are feeding on ribbonfish. They are usually larger than those feeding on shrimp.Should the drifting not be productive, then it could be a good idea to slowly cruise around looking for either feeding seagulls or shiny slicks that are crated by feeding speckled trout that have eaten to many shad and are regurgitating them. The oil in pogie shad will come to the surface and cause the sheen on the water. The smaller are freshest and the more likely to produce fish. There are numerous crab traps in the lake and along other areas that are baited with pogies. These too will cause a slick that may drift away from the trap. Should you see a slick with a crab trap float up current, don’t waste time casting into it.
By mid-morning if you are not tired of the search for your favorite fish species, then it’s time to head into the channel or to the jetty. Many of the anglers prefer to head outside early and then work back into the inland lakes and bays. This is also a good choice. Topwater action is good during the early mornings in the shallows and along the jetty, too. During the summer months, some of the more experienced anglers will use live bait to locate the fish and then switch to lures to finish out the trip.
The Gulp has long been a favorite lure for anglers both inside and outside, but the new Half-Alive lead-head plastic fished under a popping float or just casting and retrieving has become a favorite for those who have used it.
Whenever you are going fishing in saltwater and in a boat, it is a good idea to have a game plan with primary and secondary places to fish.Billy Halfin can be reached by e-mail at bhalfinoutdoors [at] aol [dot] com.