Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Hall of Giants Revisited

When I took Tony and Scott into the "hall of giants," they landed some fine reds, but not the huge fish that sometimes find their way into the back lagoon in search of mullet along the shorelines.  I am presently writing an article for Tide Magazine (it won't be out until the summer issue) on finding oversized reds in remote areas, and I find it a special challenge to target these "upperclassmen" during the fall or spring, when the water reaches far back into the west side.
I had the pleasure of guiding Shaun Daniels two weeks after Tony and Scott had fished with me. I took Shaun into the Hall of Giants immediately, since I'd taken John Karges into the same area a few days earlier (see below). I stopped the Stilt in the twilight, and poled over to a shoreline that was lined with glasswort. Immediately, we began to see reds lined up along the shoreline, sauntering into the glasswort in search of prey. They would cruise along, backs out of the water, then suddenly driving a six-inch high wake as they chased a finger mullet out of its hiding place. The first fish we encountered was so big it was hard to believe. Its back stuck out of the water by four inches, but it would disappear, as well, in the foot deep water. I think I could hear Shaun breathing heavily as he casted to the red, which was 31-32 inches long. It kept zig zagging only 30 feet from the boat, so making a precise cast as much a matter of luck as skill. Finally, the big fish headed to deeper water. Again and again, we went head to head with oversized reds, and came up fishless. This is no surprise. These fish are so sensitive and wary that even the best cast is likely to piss them off. You have to wonder how they stay so fat if they're so picky! I suppose, if you could ask them, they would fault the angler, don't you think? But while I tend to hold the angler responsible (myself included), it's worth noting that Shaun was fishing on the first day of a warming trend following a cold front. The first day is widely considered a difficult day, in which the fish are often finicky. Indeed, we found the fish very difficult for the rest of the day.

After checking a few west-side areas out, Shaun and I headed east onto the sand, where we found a pretty good concentration of fish. Shaun asked me to fish with him, so we waded north side by side, about 50 yards apart, where we could give each other a heads up on fish that we were spotting. We had numerous shots, but in almost every case, the fish were exceedingly sensitive. They would run up to the fly, and nip it, and then flee. Such behavior is rare for redfish. Nonetheless, we caught fish, and enjoyed plenty of opportunities. I am glad that I fished and saw how utterly tough the reds were that day, because it made me appreciate the challenge that Shaun had faced all day.

A week earlier, as you will see in my blog entry about guiding John Karges, I guided John on the
second day of a warming trend. You might think that one day shouldn't make a big difference, but the fish often go crazy on the second day, and will often run after a fly from several feet away. Compare that behavior to the lackluster response Shaun and I received from reds on the first day of warming. If you have a choice, always wait until the second day or thereafter. But most of us have to fish whenever we can, so don't stay home just because it's the first day or a warming trend. While the fish may be tough, you'll a better angler for having tried.

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