Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One More Cast -- Hey, It Worked!

"Just one more cast." One of the most familiar phrases in fishing, often associated with times of slow fishing. Sometimes you just need to admit that it's not a great day for fishing, cut the losses and instead of spending a whole day with no fish, you only spent an hour or so. But "one more cast" is sometimes responsible for turning a slow day into a great day.
Today I was at the gulf coast near Corpus Christi, on a day that should have been ideal for pompano. Light winds allowed to the water to turn flat and clear. Sight-feeding pompano move in close to shore when this happens, and are often caught with shrimp. I use the popular peeled shrimp with the "fishbites" artificial shrimp on a size 3/0 circle hook. From 9 am to noon, the fish were absent. Nobody was catching any. I was saying, "One more cast before I call it quits," when I felt some bites, then a powerful foot-long pompano on my line. A few minutes later, another one, and then a black drum so big it barely fit in the ice chest (it was 2 feet long, seven pounds).
"One more cast" saved the day. And what a great dinner.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I have the whole pier to myself! Hmmm, I'm getting a sore throat...

A sunny October afternoon — Halloween — the temperature in the 70's, but almost no one at Bob Hall pier in Corpus Christi. Red tide arrived here two weeks ago, turning the water a brownish red, filling the air with a toxin that stings the eyes and throat, and killing fish by the thousands. Normally October is considered by many the greatest time of all to go fishing, but when the red tide hits, it's a disaster. From the ocean beach at Corpus Christi south to Mexico, the beach is lined with dead fish, mostly mullet. They're not game fish, but they're a big part of the diet of game fish. Other fish of many species are killed in smaller numbers. This was the first major red tide event here in three years.
The red tide is an algae bloom, and relief only comes with cool weather. Two weeks after its arrival, it looks like it's finally moving out. You could hardly see or smell it, and the water was fine for swimming and surfing.
The question is, what's left of the fish? A few people were fishing in the afternoon, and none had any fish. A fellow fishing on the end of the pier said he had caught two "bull reds" (red drum over 30 inches long) and one shark earlier in the day.
I went a mile away to the Packery Channel jetty, where water from the bays enters the ocean. At the moment it was flood tide, so water was going in from the ocean, but all was clear. I saw one person who had just caught a mangrove snapper. I decided to try for a few minutes, and in just a few casts with a "gulp" lure, I caught a foot-long redfish (red drum), a ladyfish and two grunts ("piggy perch"). That's all I needed to see. I believe the fishing will pick right up.
So if you hear Red Tide is hitting the beach you're going to, find somewhere else to go, but when it's gone — no problem.
The only ones who LOVE red tide are the sea birds. They're so fat now they probably can't fly.
Red tide updates in Texas: