Have you ever wondered why the professional fishing guides seem to be more consistently successful than most other anglers? The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that they are on the water more than lay anglers. However, there are some non-professional fishermen that are afloat regularly and they seem to have more lean days than successful ones. It is sort of like a hit or miss on each outing. In our local saltwater this time of year, it seems that the speckled trout especially will be stacked in an area one day and seem to disappear from the earth the very next day.
I realize that part of the fun of going fishing is finding them. Sometimes it will be frustrating when locating the fish seems impossible. No matter how great it feels to be spending time in the outdoors, when you go fishing, the primary goal is catching fish. I’ve actually had a guide over in East Bay tell me that catching fish was secondary to simply being out in the bay. I’m sure that is the case where some folks are concerned, but most folks go fishing to catch fish. Also, if they are of the same mind as I am, they like to keep some fish for the table and the freezer. In my opinion, since most fish spawn annually and there are legal limits on size and numbers, retaining those limits is not detrimental to the fishing.
So what is the secret to guides being able to consistently put their clients on fish? I’m convinced that they keep records. The Global Positioning System has been a real benefit for location but the other information such as time, weather, water conditions and the like must be logged in.
There are two guides, one on Toledo Bend and one on Rayburn, that are super successful. Ken Sawyer, who has retired and lives in Hemphill, kept a logbook that he used daily. By doing that he could, from year to year and day to day, locate the more successful areas. That was long before the GPS cam along.
Over on Sam Rayburn, Will Kirkpatrick has been guiding for more than 30 years on that lake. He kept such accurate notes that he is not only still guiding, but also teaching bass fishing school. Not only did his notes help him while taking other folks fishing, but also when he is teaching.
On the local saltwater scene, there is now where some hot action is going on. The guides that are more experienced have daily game plans. Are they always able to stick with them? certainly not. There are many factors that can change them.
Capt. Eddie Hernandez has long been a fishing guide in and around the Lake Sabine and surrounding waters. I’ve stayed in contact with him regularly just in order to stay abreast of just what’s taking place on the saltwater fishing scene hereabouts. By doing so, it has become apparent to me that the captain has kept detailed records of his many trips.
It seems that even before he launches his boat each morning, he has a plan in mind. By having a record of what was taking place last year at this time, he could at least have a starting place. Speckled trout, flounder and redfish are strictly governed by nature. Whenever certain conditions happen annually, the fish will be somewhere nearby. Thus by keeping records, it is possible to be in the right area. Not all of the fish congregate in one spot. There will be several possible locations where Hernandez has scored well. This gives him plan A, B or C, which are all recorded good areas for a given time of year. Of course should the wind be too strong or from the wrong direction, one of the other recorded hot spots will be a better choice.
The way to locate the better areas during various days and various times of year is to spend many hours on the water and use trial and error to acquire information. Don’t try to remember all of the conditions on a given day. Write them down. The GPS unit will take you to the right location, but the weather, water conditions or tidal flow will not be on the unit.
After many years of fishing around the same areas some of the guides, do not go to the book for each trip. Day-to-day success works well, too. It’s just that it takes mega hours on the water to create a log of good fishing. It’s never to late to begin.