As the pages of our calendars turn towards warmer months here on the coast we see lots of trends, changes and signs of our ecosystems seemingly waking up. There are subtle ones and not so subtle ones. Folks starting to get out and about, spring cleaning and those boats and short sleeves starting to hit the sun again. Birds moving back through, bait showing up, grass growing. Yep that dreaded slime grass in your favorite marshes again too.
With all these things I hear lots of complaints. "It's so windy, the slime grass was too bad, wish it would quit raining". So I'm gonna share with you some simple insights of mine as to why these things are good signs. If you're dealing with the slime, then you know it's warming up and those big swinging Tides along with the windy days.... they're taking it out and bringing that warmer clean salty ocean water in. Soon the bait will be growing and multiplying your favorite target species will have crazy metabolisms again and the bite will be hot. These months are just another step in that direction.
All these things that hinder the windows you have to fish or spend time outdoors, are all part of the cycle that brings us full circle to what and where we want to be. Those rainy, windy March days.... that makes the water warm up. Soon that Marsh grass will be vibrant green again full of fiddlers and popping shrimp. They'll be top water eats and tailing crab munchers. We'll be cussing May flies and swatting mosquitoes. I look forward to the transitions and revel in the best aspects of each season. Look for the upside of each month and know that around every corner lies some sort of adventure.
I spend the majority of my time split between the beaches and extreme back bays this time of year, till the bait and apparent predator activity increases. Usually I find large groups of fish, that can either be willing or very reluctant to feed. Hero or zero we like to say.
Above you'll see a picture from a friend of mines collection, the day after we were out on that section of beach together. Now in this case we had a phenomenal day and in turn so did they right after that. Most of the time on the tail end of Winter and early Spring, beach fish are easy eats. The only factor we seem influenced by are Tides. Even that can vary day to day or by conditions. But they are not usually too picky. Some days heavier metal lures are good other days soft plastics. Some days you feel them hitting your leader but not eating. Others.... as soon as it hits the water your on. Welcome to winter metabolisms and cold blooded creatures. But any relatively pretty day on the water/early Spring in late Winter to me is rewarding.
Above is a day like many of my free time days and some days with favored clients throughout the winter and early spring. Pretty shallow muddy back bays with weedless jigs and gold spoons. Usually lighter leaders and lighter rods are in order for this fishery. Stealth is important as can be patience and definitely timing. These fish are not always fired up about eating, they are in large groups and there are many sets of eyes and lateral lines to detect danger. Some pro cure scent can be a game changer if a lethargic presentation is the recipe. As we March through into April a trend for them to eat top water will occur. But not always. A good 4" soft plastic on a 1/8oz weedless jig can be the winner. (Remember that slime grass) most of the time I'm fishing from 10"-4' of water not alot of rushing tide, so lighter is better from a varied presentation standpoint. I'll try to sneak in and I'll pin down and let these groups of fish circle around to us, making good long casts. Keeping in mind, stealth can be the day maker. This can be very rewarding for the patient angler, 20 or more fish in a few hours. Don't be surprised to find Redfish in the mid 30s back in these shallow muddy bays. Along with typically midsized to large numbers of fish.
I enjoy these quieter months, where it seems much easier to enjoy this paradise I live in. Me and many of my friends get anxious, but in the end Spring has long been my favorite season, late Winter is simply the prelude to better days to come. Dogwoods and Robin redbreasts are bearers of good news. Soon you'll be sunburnt and perpetually sticky from the humidity. Take a breath and enjoy, get outside along the Crystal Coast, give us a call.