This month there is both good and bad news for the fishermen of the Rio Grande Valley; the good news is that the fishing is phenomenal here on the Lower Laguna Madre. The bad news is that the wind is howling like La Llorona. So the emphasis of this article is on utilizing certain tactics that will be productive in these less than favorable conditions.
Having a good top-water plug is essential. During low-light or early morning period your go-to lure should be a top-water lure. Many fishermen are intimidated by this lure and are skeptical about how a fish would be enticed by this chunk of plastic. Redfish and trout are opportunistic feeders who are very aggressive. These predatory fish will literally attack anything they deem as edible and in their way. These fish are visual and auditory feeders and depend highly on their senses for targeting prey. This is why a good plug presentation will land you some quality fish.
Advanced techniques like “walking the dog” work best to call these beasts up from the depths. Walking the dog involves a forward and back whipping action with the rod while reeling the slack from the line at the same time. The lure will then move from side to side causing the rattles within to make the most noise possible. This noise combined with the movement of water around the plug makes it sound and look like a small wounded fish, which so happens to be a big fishes favorite snack. This motion takes some time to master but once perfected can be replicated with any oval shaped top-water lure. When walking the dog, always use a no-slip loop knot to tie the lure on. Using a fluorocarbon line for your leader will also add to the longevity of its’ fishing life, we use leaders to minimize the stress on the reel when using braided line.
The size and noise of the lure you use should be dependent on the water conditions. When dealing with calm conditions a smaller lure with a subtle rattle (Super Spook, Jr., Spro Dawg 100’s and Baby Skitterwalks) will be the best choice. The reasoning behind this is that when the water is calm, the fish are easily spooked because of the conditions and water clarity. Fish might not be that smart, but they are not entirely stupid either. So anything looking or sounding unusual will make them not commit. With high winds you do the exact opposite; use a big, loud, annoying lure (full-sized Super Spooks, Skitterwalks and Top Dawgs). The size and loudness of the lure will increase your chances in choppy conditions. Low light and cloudy days are best for top-water because it helps to fool the fish’s senses in believing that your fake lure is in fact a delicious mullet or other bait fish.
If you’re new to artificial lures and are looking to get your feet wet then I suggest a lure with a simple action. There are several lures on the market that will help you get into the swing of top-water action. An “easy” to work plug like a Storm lures Chug-Bug is ideal for beginners. The action to this lure is just a quick whip and reel in the slack…that’s it. The lure has a concave face so with every jerk the lure dips below the surface and makes a “chugging” sound. This is the same sound of a baitfish breaking the surface; it also has some small rattles in it to give it a “fleeing” presentation. This lure comes in two sizes, small and large. Another great entry-level top-water is the Heddon Torpedo. This lure is exactly what it sounds like…a torpedo! This lure has a small propeller on the back of it, which turns as you rip it through the water. Same rod action as the chug-bug but the propeller gives it a different wounded sound. The Torpedo comes in three common sizes tiny, baby and magnum.
With summer fast approach having a solid top-water presentation is an exciting way to fish. Catching fish in this style will build your confidence as an angler and hopefully lead to experimenting with other lures. Top-waters are some of hardest lures to master but once mastered every other lure is piece of empanada in comparison. I issue you a challenge: Take just one lure out next time you fish. Tie on a top-water and hold on!