FISHING AND HUNTING SOUTHEAST
Find the bait. Find the trout. How many times have you heard
this said or read it in a fishing magazine? Most of the time the reference
to baitfish is about mullet. Everyone knows that big trout like to eat big
baits. Right? Mullet fill the bill. After all everyone also know that trout
eat mullet. So many of our lures represent mullet. Several of the popular Mirror
Lure hard baits imitate mullet. (Catch 2000, Catch Five, Top Dog, etc.) There
are many more, Ghosts, Producers, Spooks, and on and on. Yes, trout do eat
mullet. Big trout do eat mullet. But mullet are not all that trout eat and
they are definitely not all that big trout eat. Trout eat darn near everything
that swims in the Gulf of Mexico or in the bays.
For years, I fell in to the trap of riding around the bay
looking for mullet hoping to find the trout. Just think about your own experiences.
How many times have you pulled up on a shoreline that had rafts of mullet swimming
up and down and not caught one trout? Just this past week, I fished a large
company party over on Trinity Bay. There were nine guides fishing this large
group and we scattered all over East Galveston and Trinity Bay looking for
trout. Everyone remarked about how much bait that they observed at nearly every
location. By bait they meant mullet. However, the trout were difficult to catch
because of the bad weather. The few that were taken were mostly feeding on
something else besides mullet so looking for mullet didn’t
help the problem.
Back on Sabine Lake this past Monday and Tuesday, I found
the trout feeding on a variety of baitfish and shrimp. Of course, since I fish
so much and clean so many fish, I get to observe the stomach contents of the
fish and this is proof positive of what the fish are eating at the time. A
speckled trout has the ability to turn its stomach inside out while trying
to disgorge a hook from its jaw and many times by the time you land the fish,
it has emptied its stomach contents. However, some of the fish are landed quickly
and either throw up all over the boat or are unable to get rid of their stomach
contents. After you have been able to observe what the fish have been eating
then it is easy to “match the hatch” and feed the fish a lure
that closely mimics what they are actually looking for. The first trout that
was brought over the side Monday morning shook its head violently in the boat
and spit up two 1½-inch baby croakers and a six-inch sand
eel. We all rigged up with Stanley Wedge Tail Minnows or Norton Sand
Eels and whipped up on them really good. As the sun rose higher and
the water cleared, we even scaled down smaller and caught trout on
small 11/2 inch H and H Split-tails. The largest trout of the morning,
a fat 25incher, fell to one of these little split tails. So much
for big bait big trout!
As the spring bull high tides bring in the small baitfish
that has recently hatched in the Gulf, the trout will feed heavily on them.
There are many shrimp already in the Sabine system and the trout are still
working on them as well.
While looking for bait, don’t just look for mullet.
Look for other bait. Some of these little fish, croaker especially, don’t
readily show themselves on the surface. But it is the right time
of year for this type of baitfish to be here. Look for shrimp jumping
or small ribbonfish chasing the smaller baitfish up to the surface.
The mirror-like skin of ribbonfish is highly reflective and easy
to see but they are only on the surface for a fraction of a second
before disappearing back into the depths.
Be observant, watch nature while you are on the water, and
let the fish tell you what they are doing. I guarantee you will catch more