Road Rage on the Bay
I N MAY A LOT OF different locations along the mid coast are holding fish. It’s a transition period from spring to summer, and the fish are going to be moving a lot; same with the anglers who fish for them.
The coastal waters of Rockport, Aransas, Redfish Bay and all the other bays get much more traffic, especially on the weekends. This year the numbers could be even greater. One guide pointed out that a lot of construction workers who also like to fish are present, rebuilding what was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. To put it simply…it’s crowded.
It’s time to talk about road rage on the bay…waders, boaters, “pot lickers” and boat ramps.
The numbers of anglers wade fishing will increase with the warmer waters. One thing you don’t want to do is start cruising down close to the shoreline in your boat. Eventually you will drive right up to, around, or right in front of somebody wade fishing.
One of the guides who primarily guide wade-fishing trips, Captain Kendall Kersh, offered that boaters should try to keep at least a thousand yards off the shorelines.
“That way you are not taking a chance of running over somebody wading,” he said. “They are hard to see sometimes, people out in waist deep water, just their upper portion sticking up out of water. It it’s foggy or cloudy, it can get kind of dangerous. I’ve had several people almost run me over. You start waving at them, trying to get their attention because they can’t see you.”
On the opposite side of the debate are the boating anglers. They are working the shoreline also. If you want to be a purist and get out to wade, find someplace where no one else fishes was one response on the wader/boater situation. Don’t fish the shoreline where there are going to be 30 boats going up and down the shoreline, fishing grass beds.
One boating angler got right to the point. “The waders think they own the water. They will take up a mile of shoreline. It’s like camping out on the highway with cars going by. Go to Cedar Bayou. The waders set up on the very, very popular spots that we fish. They will literally hop out of their boats and wade over and cast the same holes I’m casting to. They will be 500 to 600 yards up and down the shoreline.”
Along St. Joe Island is a popular place for both waders and boaters. Sometimes there can be huge schools of redfish. By one count, at times there can be 30 guide boats, 15 other boats following the guide boats and waders in the middle fishing for trout.
“Some of these guys are literally wading almost up to their shoulders,” said Capt. Scott McCune. “I’m three-quarters of mile off the shoreline or more, and I see this head in the water. I say to myself that’s dangerous. They are wading way deeper than they should be.
Capt. McCune and non-guide anglers all say the same thing, “I don’t like crowds. I hate being on fish and then three or four boats come up around me.” McCune said you should have a buffer zone for every boat, not for just that one pothole.
“Let’s just say I’m on Estes flats, and I know I will catch fish on this certain part of the flats. I’m not only going to want to fish the pot hole I’m fishing, but the pot holes next to it, maybe two, three, four potholes down from it, catching fish from the different locations. You work an area. Somebody sees you catch the first fish and then they are unknowingly in the second, third potholes you are working toward, or driving across the areas where you are going to fish Then you are blocked in.”
One of the biggest complaints on using boat ramps are anglers who get their boat on the ramp and then stop and load up the boat with all their gear. All of this should be done in the parking lot before you are in line for launching.
I saw one time where an angler forgot to put the drain plug in his boat. He backed the boat into the water, pulled off the trailer, and then discovered the water coming in. To make matters worse the motor quit. He then had to use his trolling motor to get the boat back to the trailer still sitting on the ramp, and get help loading the boat back on the trailer. No lie, it actually happened.
Remember … everybody is out there to have fun, relax and catch a few fish. It can be aggravating, we know that. Everybody has to work together. Maybe the answer is to pull up and fish another spot.
Email Tom Behrens at ContactUs@fishgame.com