Reading Marsh Cuts

winter speckled sea trout
Three Tactics for Winter Specks
January 17, 2023

Red arrows point to the obvious visible targets. But...

Most anglers know to fish around cuts in the marsh, where current flows get squeezed and accelerated. But beyond that, when you spot a cut do you know the best way to approach it? In the picture showed here the arrows point to the visually obvious targets: small points in the cut itself. These are certainly prime casting targets. But if you drive right up and start casting to them, you’ve already missed some prime zones and likely will have disturbed them with your boat.

boat fishing a cut

Red arrows point to the obvious visible targets. But…

The critical thing to remember here is that geography doesn’t just cease at the water’s edge. If the water flows through this cut with any sort of speed there’s likely a channel cut 20, 30, or even 50 yards outside of those visible targets. And along the edges of that channel there may be additional bends or twists that create more underwater structure.

In really good spots with abrupt edges or points underwater, during periods of moving water you may be able to spot telltale ripples and rips on the water’s surface. These are, of course, prime territory. If no visible indicators exist (and we’re assuming here that you’re in unfamiliar territory and haven’t mentally mapped out the cut in the past) it’s best to play it safe and approach slowly, casting as you go. With every cast use the count-down method to gauge the depth, sending your lure off to the left, straight towards the cut, and off to the right, to see if you can ID where the underwater channel exists.

Anglers with a good side-scan system can also do a few sweeps outside of the cut, if it’s deep enough, to see if they can see anything interesting. And once you’ve thoroughly probed the area and are ready to move in close and cast to the visible targets, pay close attention to the depth changes you see. Yes, you’ll likely spook any fish you drive over, but that’s intel you can tuck into your back pocket for the next trip.

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