It was a late week spotlight on the best the Texas Gulf Coast has to offer as cooler temperatures and decent tides let us know that a Fall transition is knocking on the door. North wind variations dominated through Saturday. Wind direction can be everything when shifting gears both mentally and tactically. Structure and locations that have been producing consistently on 180 degree wind variations are now potentially useless. With cool fronts pushing into the area more frequently in September, North wind variations will begin to linger for days. As the fronts diminish, you can find yourself back to a South wind pattern quickly. In a period of transition, today's classic Fall north wind playbook may be tossed out the door for yesterday's south wind variation playbook or you may end up using them both in the same day.
Fish Move & Adjust Fast, A Fisherman Must Move Faster (Mentally)
Fish move fast and adjust to changing wind directions quickly. They can move from one side of a bay to the other in a heart beat on changing wind directions. I actually ran across fish doing just that on Sunday. On Sunday, Shoalwater Bay was holding green, off color, and fishy along the South shoreline due to a decent North wind Saturday that had stirred it up. The North shoreline was clear stretching into the middle of the bay. I thought I'd pop up and take a look in the clearer water to the North. As I was running through the transition from off color to clear in the dead middle of the bay I caught a glimpse of 4 or 5 nice Redfish hanging near the transition. I swung wide of them doubling back to the off color water and made a hook until I caught a glimpse of the "Cotton tails", a signature of more Redfish and the upper end of the school. I shut down on them and drifted forward a bit before dropping the Power Pole. We immediately missed one and caught another in the low end of the slot. I'm convinced these fish were adjusting from one side of the bay to the other as wind and water transitioned on the new SE wind direction.
The Inter-Relationship of Spot Fishing & Conditions
The important point to consider here is recognizing that dominant wind directions are going to bring different structure and locations into play. That means making daily, even hourly adjustments in terms of the locations considered. This is where knowing the relationship between "spot" fishing and "fishing conditions" is essential. Spot fishing is fishing a very specific location almost down to exact GPS coordinates that is producing. Some give spot fishing a bad connotation but that's a bunch of nonsense. That "spot" is caughing up consistent numbers for a reason. It may be a 50 yard stretch of sand pockets along the North shoreline of Dewberry Bay that is producing Redfish on an incoming tide and a strong South wind. Every time you hit that spot in these conditions, you catch Redfish and plenty of them. That is "spot" fishing in a nutshell but it comes with a "fishing conditions" caveat and set of limiting conditions. Where "spot fishing" loses traction is when you ignore the "fishing conditions" playbook that goes with the location. If you hit that same "spot" with a North wind to find it "gin clear" it will most likely produce nothing. Does that mean it's a bad location or "spot", of course not. Knowing the location and presence of those sand pockets is essential and they are extremely productive. It just means you are in the right place at the wrong time under the wrong conditions.
Same Game, Different Angle
This is where applying the lessons learned from dominant wind directions must be applied to new predominant wind directions found in changing seasons. Productive structure, under a given set of conditions, will turn into new areas that come alive with the prevailing winds associated with Fall & Winter.
As angling professionals, we have the luxury of seeing patterns produce time and again. Some of us develop a sixth sense that just leads us in the right direction. We have the luxury of developing a pace or level of attack that will be more aggressive under some conditions and less aggressive under others. Fishing less aggressively means recognizing when to have patience and when to put the hammer down. That's an instinct that can take time to develop and it has been one I've relied on often over the years. What we see through our eyes and experience through our senses guides us often to productive outcomes. When we run into trouble it is usually because we have lost touch with our senses or just aren't recognizing what we are seeing or feeling. As a writer, it is sometimes difficult to impart what we are experiencing visually and condition wise that has led us to a decent day of fishing, but I try.
I'd like to throw a special shout out to the Hookset Marine Gear Team. Chris & Josh, thank you! We love www.hooksetgear.com We welcomed guests from as far away as Cali, Colombia this week. With guests in recently from Denmark, I guess Texas fishing may just be going "International"!
Stay safe out there!
Capt. Kris Kelley
Castaway Lodge, Inc.