Headed out about as early as I could to the honey hole BB, Diane, and I blasted about a month ago. We pulled limits of reds out of there on consecutive mornings in June, plus a few bass. The water was looking very fishy when I pulled up.
As I threw down the Cajun anchor, the water teemed with striped mullet. They schooled together, individuals leaping out the water at irregular intervals, as they are want to do. Mullet are used here as bait fish, but folks in Florida eat ’em up!
After about the fifth cast, and observing the fish activities all the while, my fishing mentor’s voice came back to me, “you have to think like a fish”, it said. The thoughts that followed were these: If the mullet are bait for larger fish, and they are here feeding, then the larger fish definitely haven’t arrived for breakfast yet. When the mullet stop jumping and skeedaddle, then the big fish have arrived.
I continued to cast, testing my theory. And sure enough, the water’s surface was barely rippling with mullet action when I felt a strike on my gold spoon. But it didn’t feel like a red or a bass. It was a very wiggly type of strike, and before I could figure out what it was, the fish was leaping out of the water. I snatched the line into the boat. The fish was barely bigger than the lure.
It’s called a Lady Fish, maybe because it’s so pretty? I committed the strike to memory, so I would not be fooled by their deception again. And there were a couple dozen more strikes from these fish. The water was teeming with them, as well as larsh and small minnows. I was thinking with this much bait fish in the water, why would a keeper red want anything fake that I had to offer?
As the false bite of the Lady Fish dwindled, a big strike came fast and hit hard, taking my spoon down to the murky depths.
It was a rat red, who put up a good fight for the size. This one was not the legal 16-inch keeper size yet. I sent it back to go get its mommy.
This observer came squawking in, fussing at me for some odd reason. Maybe I was invading her favorite breakfast spot? Even though she is blue, she is well camouflaged. Do you see her?
On the other side of the boat was a line of American water lilies. If you cast just along the edge of the lilies with a flashy bait, you can usually pull a fish out that is lying in wait to attack its prey. After several casts along the edge, the tactic proved true . . .
with this little bass, which I quickly let go, thinking if that worked on this side of the boat, it should also work on the other side of the boat.
The lilies were a little out of my reach, but I let loose with all I had to reach the edge, and then WHAM, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! Something big ripped the line off the reel, racing away from the boat. I lifted my rod straight up to eleven o’clock and held it there, and took a second to tighten the drag one click, increasing the resistance, but not enough to break the line.
I let the fish linger in the water while I maneuvered from the stern of the boat to the bow to retrieve the net and back again . The hook held fast.
Here you can see the gorgeous golden colors of the red before it leaves the water. This fish seemed very tired and possibly ill, so I removed the spoon quickly and returned its watery home–its lucky day.
After about ten minutes of fishing with no hits, I watched a nice red fish swim up from the deep and skirt just below the surface along the length of the boat. It crossed in front of the boat and swam long the lilies out of sight. I cast the shiny gold spoon right in front of that fish several times, and it was not the least bit interested. I guess breakfast was over.
Before giving up, though, I grabbed the other rod, rigged with a black and chartreuse minnow. While reeling the lure in, a big red followed it to just below the surface and attacked the lure, biting off the tail. I watched it happen. It was pretty amazing.
The bottom bait is all that was left after that red let go! It certainly was his lucky day!
As the bite slowed down, I had the feeling I was being watched by more than the helicopter hovering above.
And I wondered if this guy had anything at all to do with the fact that the bite had come to a screeching halt? He parked himself right on the edge of the lilies and stayed there until I left. I guess I was anchored in his breakfast spot as well.
I was accompanied today by my best friend,
who just didn’t feel like fishing. It’s a dog’s life, for sure!
We departed, another wonderful fishing trip, leaving Miss Blue Heron and Al E. Gator to battle for my honey hole.
On the way out, I encountered this colorful floating island.
To the unknowing eye, this would seem like a beautiful floating phenomenon. But to the knowing, it is a clump of non-native, bayou-blocking invasive nuisance called water hyacinth.
Even though they boast an attractive flower, they reproduce so rapidly in the summer, they can clog a waterway in days, making it impassable by boat. One portion of my tour route is totally blocked right now, with no opening in sight.
The rest of the week? Tours, and marsh grass plantings. Pics and stories afterward!