A pril seems tailor- made for anglers who want to get out, get some sun and warmth, and catch a few cooperative fish to boot.
Water has stayed around the 75 degree mark all through the very mild winter, and fish have been in spring patterns since February. Contrary to what some believe, however, catching fish in April isn’t simply a matter of grabbing your rod, some lures, a couple of baloney sandwiches, and simply showing up at the water’s edge. You do have to look for the fish.
Speckled trout tend to concentrate along deeper guts and drop-offs to feed on schooling young-of-the-year baitfish. Trout, much like other fish, tend to gravitate toward areas that provide both forage and an easy escape route in case of threats (such as Herman, an old, gnarly dolphin that is a fixture on the Lower Laguna Madre and has populated the bay with his brood). If you can locate one of these guts or drop-offs, you will find trout.
One excellent choice for fishermen looking for trout living structured lives is Holly Beach. The ankle-deep, silty mud makes wading the area a tribulation during the summer, but Holly Beach is a marquee spot for springtime trout.
After a series of days with mild wind (an anomaly in May), speckled trout will spread out on the flats to forage. As cold-blooded trout warm up in spring, they become more active, and look for easy meals.
An eel-style soft plastic such as a Gulp! Jerk Shad or Kelly Wiggler Ball Shad on a 4/0 offset worm hook is very effective, especially if there are mullet in the area. Just as effective are1/8th ounce jigheads. Light colors such as pearl/pink, chartreuse/white or even LSU are popular colors. Down South Lures has some unique color patterns that are also worth a try.
Should a north wind drive a cold front down from Canada (which is actually more common than you may think in April, and could actually be an issue in this very atypical year), the trout will back off into the relatively deeper water of a now-defunct barge channel that bisects the waters off Holly Beach.
In that case, you can fish the edge of the drop-off with a Mansfield Mauler/jig combo. Gulp! Shrimp in New Penny or Ivory are the go-to baits for post-frontal trout. The Mauler allows you to slow down your retrieve, and keeps the lure in one spot for a longer time.
The klick-klack of the Mauler provides the sound factor that trout find so attractive, and the length of the leader between it and the lure keeps the latter in the strike zone.
These fish are in a neutral mood because of the weather change (Fortunately, a springtime front won’t drop the water temperature, so they won’t be in a winter-type of funk), and the longer you can keep a lure in their faces, the better your chances at drawing a strike.
Even though trout will be more aggressive because it is spring, there is no sense in fishing with your hair on fire. Fish the area slowly as you can. If you don’t mind the hard slog, you can anchor-up and wade the area.
Kayakers have also developed a fondness for the area, and a yak can cover water neither waders nor boaters can. Focus on an area of darker bottom or deeper water and fish the area as thoroughly as you can. You’d be surprised at how often water you previously covered will actually have fish in it.
If redfish are your preference, then Holly Beach also fits the bill. Redfish are not as picky about weather conditions as the speckled trout, but they do live at Holly in the spring. They’ll roam all over the flats, even when the afore-mentioned surprise front drives trout off. The ¼ ounce gold spoon is a preferred lure to gain their attention. If the water is murked-up from a north wind, then you may want to deploy the same Mauler/Gulp! combo that was working on the trout along the edges of the bar.
If you spot any tailing reds, flip an Ultra Crabz artificial crab in front of them, wait for the redfish to be in the bait’s range, and start skittering the faux crustacean back across the bottom. Slather some crab-flavored Pro Cure onto the lure to complete the illusion. The scent should get the fish’s attention, and when he’s within range, the lifelike appearance should finish the sale.
If you do intend to fish for the redfish, then outfit yourselves accordingly. You don’t need to break out the war club and well rope for these fish, but a solid, high capacity spinning or baitcasting reel loaded with at least 15-pound mono (I prefer 10/40 or 12/50 braid) on a solid medium to medium heavy rod is a good pick. Some of these reds can push the upper-end of the slot.
Most anglers have been waiting all winter long for some great days to get a good fishing trip and a nice tan. April is a great month for such a trip, even if you are decking out in Holly.
Email Cal Gonzales at
Email Calixto Gonzales at [email protected]