August 9th, 2014
Using Live Shrimp for Trout Fishing
Live shrimp is unbeatable trout bait in terms of all around effectiveness.
The cost is relatively high and it can be difficult to keep alive in the summer heat of Galveston Bay, but many anglers will settle for nothing else.
There are certain times during the summer months when natural baits will take more speckled trout than artificial baits.
Speckled trout are hard to please eaters who feed on fresh bait, not shrimp that has been frozen for a long period of time or that has a stink to it. Live shrimp works wonders around bay flats, reefs and along the edges of grass and marshes. These are areas where trout are likely to school in large numbers.
As far as some species are concerned the larger the bait, the bigger the fish that is likely to be caught. In the case of speckled trout, however, the bait must be tailored to the waters being fished. Shrimp five to seven inches long make good bait for trout between four to six pounds, or when you are fishing jetty waters or in passes or channels that hook up the bays to the Gulf of Mexico.
Large shrimp are less effective in the bay areas. It has been my experience that shrimp about three or four inches are ideal to secure good stringers of trout.
Whether you hook the shrimp through the next-to-last section of the body, from the tail, depends on the size of shrimp and its stage of life.
Very small shrimp are difficult to hook under the spike. There are also times when the shell is very soft. In both cases you need to hook the shrimp in the last part, next to the tail.
I prefer to use the latter method at all times. The bait appears more natural and chances are you will not hook the area under the spike (commonly refereed to as the brain).
Many times, I feel its how you present the bait that will make a difference on whether the trout takes it at all.
Sometimes try hooking the shrimp under the bottom (or belly), giving the look of a crippled bait. Other times squeeze the head just enough to crack the shell. This also gives the bait a disabled look and the juice will attract the trout due to the smell.
Speckled trout have extremely large mouths, and when they strike, they usually take the whole bait. But, this doesn’t mean they swallow the shrimp instantly. They hold the bait for a one or two count before ingesting it.
Many times salt-water anglers believe that trout take the bait head first. A lot of times, after a solid hit with live shrimp, the bait appears to be squeezed together (head to tail), giving the impression that trout grab the shrimp from the side rather than head first.
There are times when the fish nibble and peck instead of striking hard. This usually occurs several times each year when the fish have what we call “sore mouth”. This is when the two canine teeth become loose. Apparently, the trout shed these teeth. I’ve caught speckled trout with two long teeth, with one long and one missing, and I’ve even seen big trout with two small teeth.
When you have this happens to you while fishing, hook the live shrimp through the second body part from the tail, rather than under the spike or last section. “Sore mouth” specks nibble at the underside and soft part of the shrimp, much like piggies or pan fish. If you take the time to examine more closely, you can tell whether it’s trout or piggies. Unlike pan fish, trout leave puncture marks and clean bits on the bait.
Specks will also nibble at the bait in the dead of winter when they are sluggish due to the cold. This is a time when the fisherman ought to use small shrimp, preferably ones with soft-shells. It also helps in winter fishing to hook the shrimp near the tail, but through the lower part of the body.
There are times when live bait is unobtainable, at any price.
“Fresh” dead shrimp is excellent. Try heading and pealing it before putting it on the hook. Suspend the bait under a popping cork about three feet. Hook the entire shrimp through the body. “Jiggle” the rod tip and pop the cork carefully to give it a little action.
Another alternative to live shrimp, and my all-time favorite, is the use of artificial lures.
Successful fishing with these baits is an art that is not acquired by accident. It requires a technique that takes time, patience and practice. Until it’s mastered, this type fishing can be quite unproductive.
But, regardless, have fun while fishing and enjoy the outdoors.
See y’all on Galveston Bay.
Capt Paul Marcaccio
USCG & TP&W License
July 14th, 2014
Wade fishing: Classroom 101………………..
As we try to find other methods to capture those speckled trout, this writer would suggest that one might try and get out of a perfectly dry boat, commonly referred to as wade fishing. Many are called, few are chosen to this art of catching great fish. It seems that there is some who would believe that you could successfully catch bigger fish, while in the boat. That is further from the truth………………………
Successful wade fishing depends a lot on how you dress. Wearing apparel that can be seen under water from more than a few feet can penalize you by spooking the fish. Remember that fish are skittish when they search for food in shallow water.
Additionally, the wrong apparel can be downright dangerous, especially in waters with deep holes or along the fringes of cuts and channels or in areas where very soft mud can become dangerous bottom.
Don’t wear clothing that will reflect light. A person all decked out in white clothing can really spook fish, especially speckled trout, in shallow water. Instead wear any dark colored pants. When wet, these materials will make your legs look like posts. It’s not at all wise to wade fish bare legged. Long pants will protect your legs from hooks, fins and jellyfish. Guys that wade in shorts, spend a lot of time in the boat, recovering from the sting of those pesky critters.
Some kind of footwear is a must when wade fishing the bays. Bare feet can get you into all kinds of trouble. I prefer tennis shoes or lightweight wading shoes. Boots can get you into a lot of trouble if you happen to step into too deep a hole. So be careful when you purchase those wading boots. Make sure they are at least a size larger. That way, you can lose them should you need too. This is especially true if hip boots are worn. They can quickly fill with water and will practically anchor you to the bottom. Never wade alone. I know what you are thinking. No one else will go or you want to move more quickly to cover the water area. This writer has personally saved several from possible serious injury or worse. Wade in teams of at least 2(two) fishermen. You can really cover more water and when you find those speckled trout or redfish, you can hold them for a time.
The very worst way to wade fish is to go bare footed. I still see this often when the water along the beachfront is clear and waders are out seeking speckled trout. Instead of going bare foot, wear very lightweight tennis shoes. It’s very important that these shoes can be easily kicked off if you happen to slip into water over your head and be faced with a situation of having to swim for shore. This is a thing that occurs all too frequently when waders invade the waters of San Luis Pass.
Of course, some sort of insulated wear is needed for wading in the winter. I prefer chest high neoprene waders by Simms Outdoors or wade-lites. Waders, however, can get you into trouble if you venture into water too deep. So always walk with a shuffle to feel the ground ahead so you can dodge holes and avoid slipping off the edge of cuts and channels.
A belt around the outside of the waders can make the apparel serve as a makeshift flotation device if you step into a deep hole or slip into a channel. The belt will help to trap air inside the waders to give you a certain amount of flotation. The thing to do if you go into a hole is to abandon your fishing gear and start paddling to shore. Buying new fishing gear is far less expensive than having your family come to visit you at the area hospital. Remember that you can become numb very quickly in cold water. Hypothermia is nothing to fool with. The water temperature today is slowly moving down toward colder conditions. Presently, its 84 degrees and dropping as these cold fronts continue to assault our coastline.
Be sure and layer you apparel when wading. It’s much easier to take it off, instead of not having that pair of sweats of light jacket.
The ideal way to wade fish is to wear some sort of flotation device. There are several on the market that instantly inflate when an access cartridge is popped. With a device like that you can save your life as well as your fishing gear. Otherwise, you can purchase those that are already made to wear. Be sure that they would hold your weight. Check the tags for instructions.
It’s extremely important to wear gear that will seal out moisture as well as the cold when wade fishing in the winter. Wearing several layers of clothing is better than a single heavy garment.
Another important aspect of wade fishing is to always let someone know just where you plan to fish. Your family and friends can use this to start a search for you, if you fail to arrive in a timely fashion. Carry your hand held GPS, so you can let them know where you are at with that implanted (cell phone) we all now carry. Be sure and carry an extra phone battery.
Fishing this time of the year is as good as it gets. Take care of your homework at home or office, and experience a moment of a lifetime.
As always, have a good time in the outdoors.
See y’all on Galveston Bay.
Capt Paul Marcaccio
USCG &TP&W License