Solve the ‘Dog Days’ Dilemma With These Inshore Tricks
By Capt. Gus Cane
Summer time is prime time for saltwater anglers, especially those who love to sight-fish trophy game in skinny water. The bait is plentiful, the fish are aggressive and the action can be fast and furious. Until it gets too hot, that is. When the shallow water temperatures rise into the sauna-sphere, the fish don’t stop feeding, but it is necessary to adjust your game plan. Here’s how:
Start by going early or late. Inshore water temperatures will be the coolest in the early morning hours and again once the sun starts dipping towards the western horizon near dusk. Those windows also offer low-light conditions when ambush predators are most active. A proven method—and the most fun too—is to throw a noisy topwater plug in either hard or soft plastic. Those with internal beads or rattles add to the attraction.
A selection of proven winners include Rapala Skitter Walks, Heddon Super Spooks, MirrOlure Top Dogs and Bomber Badonk-a-donks in the hard variety or DOA BaitBusters and Mann’s Ghost for a softer touch. Color doesn’t matter as much this time of year as action. Natural patterns with chrome or silver are always good, as are contrasting shades like pearl, white/red head and chartreuse. Keep the rod tip low and retrieve in a steady, rhythmic cadence by flicking the rod tip to impart a side to side motion, known as “walking the dog.” Just be sure to hang on to the rod tightly, because explosive, head-shaking surface strikes are the typical result.
Once the sun reaches its mid-morning zenith and beyond, it’s time to go deeper. Use the boat’s depth finder to zone in on the deeper flats. A temperature gauge on the sounder will also help pinpoint cooler water. Even a few degrees can make a difference. Swap out the topwater plug and use soft-plastic jigs, shrimp imitations or slow-sinking twitch baits instead. Once you start catching, make a note of the depth and concentrate your efforts within that strike zone. Remember to adjust accordingly as the tides rise and fall. Flats located near inlets or passes will often have cooler water because of the flushing action, so those are another option when it gets too steamy.
Taking a cue from mountain stream trout anglers will pay dividends for inshore briny anglers too. By “matching the hatch” or using the same or similar-sized baits as what the game fish are feeding on increases the hook-up ratios. Live shrimp are usually on the inshore blue-plate menu, but if you notice schools of finger mullet frantically jumping to escape bull reds, break out the cast net and join the party. Don’t pin on a pilchard and expect to get a strike if the trout are slamming tiny glass minnows. Tie on a tout jig or a small shiny casting spoon like a Kastmaster or diamond jig to mimic the entree of the moment. Your catch rate will go up if you do.
To really capitalize on the summertime flats bite requires a craft that is designed for shallow-water operation. The Carolina Skiff JVX Series boats have the performance and features needed to take full advantage of the sizzling hot action inshore. The light weight and modified V-hull design requires less horsepower, without sacrificing performance. With an overall length of 15 feet 10 inches and a 78-inch beam, these skiffs are capable of sneaking into narrow tidal creeks or mangrove tunnels with ease, yet they still offer plenty of room for casting and gear. You’ll never have to worry about super low tides either, since JVX models only draw about four inches of water. When it’s time to reluctantly head back to the dock, don’t worry about the afternoon sea breezes or choppy bays. Those patented standard spray guards will keep all aboard dry.
As an added benefit, all JVX models are available with multiple options so they can be rigged to fit your particular needs and fishing style. To learn more or to locate a nearby dealer, visit www.carolinaskiffs.com and click on the Build A Boat tab. And then, before you know it, you’ll be sharing your own skinny-water success for redfish, trout and snook with other enthusiasts through Skiff Life.
Original Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle.com