Here’s to hoping this forecast is slightly better than the weatherman’s. After digging into the log books, one thing usually stands out going into spring…water temperature. It seems like 68-72 degrees is a fairly magic number. Trout spawn, redfish tail, flounder file in, triple tail start to show, sharks are on the prowl, baitfish are abundant and those white shrimp start to grow and move.
A plastic shrimp. Never work. That’s what I thought until I met Mark Nichols about 20 years ago at the old Pine Island Fish Camp in St. Augustine. Mark explained the key to this bait, was nothing. Do nothing. I didn’t completely understand that at the time, but over the years I’ve figured it out. Mark had explained that a shrimp actually moves forward at a slow and meticulous pace. That is the real magic of probably the best shrimp imitating lure on the market. I guess the “do nothing philosophy” probably needs to be explained. This bait needs to do nothing but look natural. It is the angler’s mission to keep this imitation crustacean looking “au natural”.
I have been fortunate to have received many new hard and soft baits to try in the marsh. I haven’t got to all of them but did bring some Trout Tricks along last Tues in a brutal fog. I started out a little greedy with one of my old favorites, the 52M from Mirrolure. I wanted to see if I could find a big one in some new stuff. I probably stayed with it too long, with only 2 taps, lost a small one at the boat, and pulled the hooks on what felt like a decent trout. I moved up river to some flooded mud and grass flats I had been wanting to fish. I started with the DOA clear w/red flake and got into the dinks pretty good. Finally caught a solid keeper after 12 shorts…very short. The bite quit and with time running out, switched over to the Trout Tricks. I ran to a small creek that I knew had a deep drop 2 bends back. The Trout Trick did the trick. The next 6 fish were all solid trout in the 15-17” range. I used a slow lift and drop retrieve and would just shake it now and then. Water was fairly cloudy all day but I fished the cleanest stuff I could find. Water temps were around 59 degrees and for most of the morning the fog was very thick. Definitely going to add the “tricks” to the team.
Most savvy fishermen know that docks hold fish. The problem is that with literally hundreds of thousands of docks to choose from, it’s hard to decide which one to fish. While docks may look very similar in appearance, there are very unique characteristics to each and every one. Hopefully I can offer some insight into what I look for when dock fishing.
Some features that give a dock good fishing characteristics are obvious. I am automatically drawn to older docks–the older the better. These docks have had a longer time to develop marine habitat underneath them, which in turn will draw the predators. If a dock is actually broken, I’ll fish it even harder. Broken docks often leave their skeletal remains just below the surface, which obviously is even more structure. Couple that with the absence of foot traffic to spook the fish, and you have the makings for a “fishy” dock.
For most anglers, saltwater and fresh alike, the process of picking favorite lures would create a virtual encyclopedia of choices. Although I’ve thrown about everything made, I always end up with a few “go to” baits. The following list is not so much a gear review, as what works for me. I’ve thrown these baits from Virginia to the Keys on the East Coast, and from the Keys to Texas on the Gulf. Many of these manufactures have supported me in the past and continue to do so today, and a big thanks goes out to those folks. Some of these manufacturers I’ve never met or spoken to, but kudos are in order for making a great product. In alphabetical order, here are the lures that STAY in my box.