ONE OF CAPT. TOMMY COUNTZ clients asked once, “When I take my buddy and we go fishing in my boat, we don’t catch anything; but when I go with you, we always catch fish. What are we not doing?
Countz replied. “If I’m taking you fishing, I’m going to keep you working trying to find fish. We don’t stop, drink a couple of beers, shoot the breeze, and finally say, ‘let’s go in; we haven’t caught anything.’ It’s easy to give up. It’s a little tougher to keep on going.”
Don’t give up; keep looking and casting.
Part of Tommy’s background includes playing football for Rice University. “We didn’t have a very good team when I was there,” he said. “The one thing I learned was you don’t quit until the last click of the clock. Same thing in fishing, keep going and keep looking. Sometimes in the last hour of your day on the water you start catching fish.”
Keep looking. If you don’t catch any in one spot, move on to another. If you’re not catching with topwaters, switch off to soft plastics. Switch jig-head-size weights 1/8 to 1/16 ounce, and fish REALLY slow. Keep your tackle bag or box open to try any of your baits or techniques.
“I’m not saying that all recreational fishermen fishing in their own boats, don’t do that, but very few of them do,” said Countz.
“Another thing I will do is go back to the spots and techniques I used six to ten years ago,” continues Capt. Tommy. “Maybe the tide was falling, maybe it was rising. I try to recall what we did in this same area and some of the things we did. Maybe it was a different color.
“Sometimes you need to reach so far down, so far back in your memories, figuratively speaking, you think your fingertips are just about touching the fish. But if you don’t reach down and try to grab him, you aren’t going to grab him at all.”
If we are not moving around real frisky, the fish are feeling the same way. Fish slower, feel the bite. Use braided line. “It’s (braided line) kind of like closing the gap…you can feel almost everything. There’s no stretch. You can feel their teeth just touching the lead head. If you don’t tune you’re going to think you had no action at all.
“Many times, if you are throwing soft plastics and lead heads, you don’t feel the aggressive bite. It just feels like you’re hung on something. Tighten down and hold it. Watch for a little movement in the line, or maybe the line tightens. When you feel the fish, pop it. That little sharp prick in their mouth gets them excited.”
Okay, I’ve got all that, but guides share a lot of information with each other. It’s easier for them find and catch fish because they network with each other.
“Sure, some of us do, but sharing locations is not a common thing,” said Countz. “Occasionally I get to fish with a couple of buddies who are guides. That’s when we talk about how we fish, what we look for. Not so much sharing secret hot spots. I have been guiding over 30 years, and I still learn things about areas and about fishing. Once you think you have it figured out, those fish are going to show you really don’t.”
Capt. Paul Marcaccio, another coast guide with lots of years of fishing experience on the Texas coast, shares some things most coastal anglers know, but they “don’t dig deep enough to grab the fish.”
“Shallow shorelines can still produce fish in the summer,” shares Capt. Paul, “but you had better be out there before the sun comes up. Rising temperatures deplete the water of oxygen, and the fish are gone. Then it’s time to move out deeper and start fishing reefs.
“Switch from soft plastics or topwaters to live croaker, free-lined on the edges of the reefs. If there’s a lot of fishing pressure on the bigger and popular reefs, dig out your maps or Hot Spots Atlas, and look for smaller reefs that are not drawing all the attention.”
One thing you don’t want to do is motor right in on the reef; you might learn some new caustic words that you didn’t know before. Fish the edges; be courteous to other anglers who are already fishing.
So, what’s our takeaway from all this? If you want to fish the shorelines, set your alarm clock for an earlier wake-up call; rising temperatures with the rising sun zaps the oxygen out of the water for the fish. Fish slow, slow, and slow. You don’t move around real fast when it’s hot; the fish don’t want to move around fast either. Move out to the deeper reefs after 10 a.m.
Don’t forget angler/fishing courtesy to other anglers. Don’t forget to keep hydrated with water or Gatorade-type drinks and keep that sunscreen on any exposed skin. Don’t stay out long enough to flirt with sunstroke, but don’t give up. “Sometimes in the last hour of your day on the water you start catching fish.”
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]