Wintertime Trout Tactics – DOA shrimp
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”.
Here on the Georgia coast we are heavily influenced by seven foot tidal changes, which equates to current. As with most artificials, I like to bring the bait with the current. In the case of the D.O.A. shrimp, this typically means long cast up current, and counting down the descent to the bottom, while constantly maintaining contact with the bait. This bait will often get eaten on the fall, and only the faintest tap will signal the take, which is why maintaining contact with your lure is critical. Once the shrimp reaches bottom, usually just lifting or crawling the bait, with the assistance of the current is all that is needed. I will give an occasional twitch or hop, but mostly just try to keep this bait head forward, in its natural posture of movement.
Often, as with a lot of finesse baits, it is just plain hard to feel what the bait is doing– especially with depths up to 20 feet combined with current. I try to concentrate my efforts on the couple of hours on each side of low tide. The current is slower, the bait is out of the marsh, and the predators know it. One of the main things with finesse fishing is eliminating the “bag” or “bow” or slack in your line that current and wind can cause. And we all know the wind seems to blow usually about the time you get to the hole. I try, whenever possible, to have the wind directly at my back or directly in my face. This will eliminate much of the bow in your line. Lining up with your target and wind can often be tough and sometimes impossible. If this happens, I usually drop the rod tip to the water and alter my stance accordingly–whatever it takes to maintain that straight line contact.
I know I did not mention color, because personally I think colors are made for fisherman, not fish. That being said, D.O.A. makes just about every color of the rainbow…so go with what you know.
The D.O.A. shrimp is deadly in all of the usual haunts. If you can make yourself slow down, just like the shrimp, and let it act natural, you will get bit. From January 6th – 8th I saw nearly 70 trout come to the boat in the few hours around the low tides. Nearly all came on the D.O.A shrimp…and a few on the Rapala CD 9…but that’ll be another bog. Until then, you won’t know if you don’t go.