Fishing around the inshore waters, flats and back bays, I have always preached to my clients that fish don’t always hang out on the bottom to feed. For that matter, offshore species don’t either.
It is very important to find out where in the water column the fish will be feeding. The water column refers to the surface, mid depths and the bottom. It doesn’t matter whether you use artificials or live baits, follow these simple suggestions and you will increase your chances of catching more fish.
Fishing the surface with floating lures can be done almost everywhere. You can cast baits in six inches of water all the way out to hundreds of feet deep. Best time to fish floating baits is in the early morning or dusk. Fish will feed on the surface in these low light conditions.
Also when choosing a floating artificial bait color, try to “Match the Hatch”. That is making sure the lure closely matches the type and size of bait in the area. If small mullet are schooling up and down the mangroves, then chose a similar looking lure. The only requirement when retrieving the lure is to make it look as natural as possible. I retrieve with short little jerks in between reeling, letting the lure do it’s magic.
One of the most successful methods of working a top water lure is called “Walk the Dog”. This works well with MirroLure’s Top Dog and also with others as well.
How to Walk the Dog: Surface walkers are retrieved with a twitching action called “walking-the-dog.” Make as long a cast as possible, and then retrieve the lure back to you in a straight line while twitching your rod. This will make the lure dance quickly from side-to-side. Each time you pop your rod tip, you will hear a sonic click coming from your lure. This “fish calling” rattle inside the echo chamber of the Dog produces explosive strikes.
Next, let’s look at the mid depth area as it relates to the water column. This refers to below the surface and above the bottom.
These lures are called subsurface or suspended baits. Most of these lures are made to drop down one to three feet below the surface. The action from this type of artificial is very similar to the floating lure but it’s below the surface. Also, jig heads and live baits can be suspended in the mid depth area by using a float.
Most of the mid depth fishing is done in mid-day when the sun is high and bright. Fish will drop down in the water column as the sun moves over head. Noon is the perfect time to bring out the MirrOdine suspended lure and cast over grassy flats in search of snook, redfish and trout.
Here are a few well know companies that have a variety of surface and subsurface lures. MirroLure, Rapala, Yo-zuri and others all have different colors and sizes to match the bait in your area.
Last, is fishing the bottom area. Fish do hang out on the bottom in the grass, along rocks and oyster beds to ambush their food. This usually means that you will have to use some type of weight to get your artificial or live bait down to the bottom. One of the most effective methods for catching snook in the passes is to throw out a pinfish or grunt with a small split shot sinker attached and let it slide along the bottom naturally.
Most of the artificials for fishing the bottom are lead headed jig types. They can be fished with plastic tails or live bait. Cast out and let the weight of the jig head take it down to the bottom. Also on the flats and in shallow waters, bouncing the jig along the bottom is a very effective way to catch a number of different species.
If fishing conditions change or the action is slow, try fishing another part of the water column. Keep looking for the right combination and I know you will catch more fish.
Have fun experimenting and be safe on the water.
Capt. Gary Burch