Ralph and I had a great day fishing with Daniel from Z-Man Fishing on Sunday. The weather we have had so far this winter is crazy. Two days after Christmas and the water is 69F. I’m not sure the fish know what pattern they are supposed to be in any more than we do. We had a memorable thing happen – we happened upon a group of four or five redfish happily tailing as if it was July. After one swing and miss, a second try yielded a great hookup and fish landed by Daniel – on December 27th. Unbelievable! Daniel is fishing a Z-Man PaddlerZ rigged weedless with a Phillips Custom rod. This rod is a split grip Tennessee handle with recoil guides. He has paired it with a Shimano Ci4 1000 spinning reel. Here is a photo sequence and video of the catch. Enjoy!
Ralph and I fished today with one of Ralph’s business associates, Doc. Doc has never really fished, so I helped him with the basics, which was literally beginning with how to cast a spinning rod. I got him started and within the 4th or 5th cast I hear a splash, and he has landed his first fish on artificial bait, a trout. Nice!
The weather today was absolutely phenomenal, with zero wind and a high temp of 72F. The water is right around 60F. Pretty incredible for mid December…
We had a great day with 100+ trout between the three of us. There were a lot of smaller fish caught today, with around 20 being in the range of 16-17 inches. It was encouraging to see many real small trout – this year’s year-class. It will be great for next years catching.
The trout bite today was what we call a “mush bite”. It’s not the familiar *tick* but rather more of a gentle pick-up or just “something feels weird”. You really need to be dialed in to your equipment to catch a lot on days like today. If you are fishing with poor technique you would not catch many fish at all today, at least where we were. What do I mean by that? First of all, equipment. The reel doesn’t matter so much, but the rod does. We use high end blanks with M/L flex and extra-fast tip on our custom rods. The tip is really what is important to feel the slight bite. Lastly, braid helps a lot, but when the water gets very clear, as it always does in winter in the Wando, you will want to go with mono or fluoro line or long leader. As for technique, you have to stay connected to your lure. No big bow in your line, and minimal slack during the retrieve.
There is a technique to doing it right, and we have coached many people on how to do it properly. Most don’t do it right – and thus probably miss a lot of fish. Trout will breathe the lure in, then spit it out. If you have ever brought in a Trout Trick with the tail curled around the hook, you missed a fish. And, to make things more interesting, often the bigger the trout, the softer the bite. Why does Ralph catch the bigger fish consistently when you are fishing the same setup and same spot? It’s feel and technique. Plain and simple.
We did have a couple reds mixed in here and there, that were tagged and released. By now, most of the reds are hanging on deep structure or schooled up on the flats, thus explaining the lesser numbers of reds for us today.
Last weekend I installed a new toy on Ralph’s boat: A Humminbird Helix 7 with side imaging. Holy wow, that thing is crazy cool. I encouraged him to go with a Humminbird since I have had so much luck finding fish schooled up using mine. The side imaging is amazing. It will be a blast using this for scouting, and we already have “learned some things”. I’m pumped up to try a new pattern – I’ll keep it at that…. hopefully I will be able to write a post about that in the near future 🙂 At first, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to give Ralph this kind of power. It’s not really fair to the fish…But, he’s kind of a stick in the mud and I think it will take some persuading to learn this ol dog a new trick…I’ll get him there sooner or later.
Lures that worked well for us today were Trout Tricks in Shrimp Po’Boy and Green Lantern. Also, the MinnowZ in Rootbeer/Chartreuse and StreakZ 3.75 in Ralph’s Shad. All of these offerings are available on our online store, FYI.
Doc did really well today – he caught his share and we couldn’t help but really just enjoy being on the water today. If you were lucky enough to be fishing today…. you’re lucky enough!
Thanks and see you on the waters!
We have been blessed with some unseasonably warm weather this fall, and as I write (Dec 7, Pearl Harbor Day…RIP Heros…) the water is still just below 60F. That’s great news for survival of the trout this winter. This has also meant that the trout have yet to really transition to the “winter pattern”. After the latest cold front, we believe that transition is in progress. Here is what we mean by that.
Trout will transition to a pattern of moving up creeks away from the main rivers. Whether they are doing this to escape predation, seek out warmth, or the last remaining bit of bait – I’m not sure, but sure enough that’s what they do. They will also drop into deep holes in creeks. One thing we have found is that trout will often hang out in the dead center of these creeks (the deepest parts) and we have observed many people trying to fish in the typical way…moving up the center of the creek with their boat, and casting to the banks. What they should be doing is moving up the edge and casting to the center. You must work your lure very, very slowly. This is where your gear makes all the difference. You will feel an ever so slight *tick*. That’s the bite. A very sensitive rod with a fast tip and braided line is the ticket. This is an appropriate time to plug our custom rods, which are made for this exact purpose. They are high end (read: expensive) but the best rod you can buy for trout fishing. We like to fish Z-Man Trout Tricks and will cut them down even. Other lures we like are the 3.75 StreakZ and the newer Slim SwimZ. These “match the hatch” of available bait consisting of glass minnows. When you stop your lure on the bottom, the buoyancy of the ElaZtech makes the tail float up. It’s killer.
It’s not hard to catch double digits of trout in the winter – you just need the know how, tools, and skill to do it. See you on the water…We’ll be out there in 5 layers and mittens…
In Other News…
If you didn’t already know, we are a Z-Man dealer and offer a limited selection of their lures on our store. Why? These are ones that we personally endorse and fish ourselves. That’s not to say that the other Z-Man lures don’t work just as well. We just like to offer only products that we fish with ourselves. Catch us on the water and see for yourself. We are fishing Phillips Custom rods with Trout Eye jigs and the Z-Man lures available on our site. We will soon be offering the Z-Man 3.75″ StreakZ, 3″ MinnowZ, and 2.5″ Slim SwimZ in select colors on our store.
We have sold out of our white Trout Eye hand towels and have replaced them with a Navy Blue colored towel. Why? Well, when your catching, you’re using them a lot, and the white gets easily blood-stained and dirty. The Navy towels will look better for longer. Hope you like them as much as we do!
We have a couple new Retail shops in Miami, FL! Check out El Capitan Sports, both locations now stock Trout Eye jigs!
Stay tuned we have some great new stuff ready to drop early next year….