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By Chubs
#2255146
Wanted to get some advice from the experts on here.

I seem to have the problem of spending too long fishing at unproductive areas. I'm fairly confident in my search bait of choice right now (jighead for appropriate depth with cocohoe minnnows). I feel that I'll at least get some strikes with it if there are fish in the area.

When I go back to analyze my trips that I get skunked on I feel like I spend far too much time working over unproductive areas.

So I'm trying to set myself time limits where I will pick up and leave an area if it's not productive (i.e. not a single bite in a whole trip).

So for example, this last trip I took (will post a report tonight or tomorrow) - I had a 6 mile round trip planned out. I had a 2nd area picked out with a different type of structure if the 1st area was unfruitful.
What ended up happening was I burned all of my time on the 7 mile loop without a bite to show for it, and didn't have enough time to go to the backup plan with different structure.

I spent about 5hr 30min on the 6 mile loop and then it was too close to quitting time by the time I made it to the other spot I just fished from the dock a bit then headed home instead of launching.

My question is - ballpark, how much time would you think is good to spend per mile on a trip when searching for fish? Say the area is brand new for you and you don't know the hotspots (my case since I'm pretty new at this).

I was thinking my paddle speed is about 2 mph at the slowest; and I should figure to spend 1/2 of my time fishing and 1/2 paddling? So for the 6 mile loop I should have probably instead stayed 4hr instead of 5hr 30min?

Thoughts? :)
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By Neumie
#2255177
Simple answer is just spending more time on the water will tell you when to move on to another location. I very rarely load up and launch from a second location; it waste too much time. Try finding different structure within your first launch and maybe try switching up lures as well.

In the screen shot below, the initial plan was to work the lakes and shorelines of Hog Island for reds, but I only found horse mullet and skipjacks. So instead of paddling back out and re-launching from a new location for redfish I popped out to deeper water to target trout. My first drift was long and each drift afterwards I was able to tighten it up a little as I keyed in on the trout. Ended up with a limit of trout.

Image

This is how I approach most flats; I'll make few a drifts (usually a couple with tops and a couple more with plastics) to try and locate and key in on the fish. If after several drifts without results I'm looking for I'll move on to different structure within the same launch.
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By karstopo
#2255184
It’s definitely a puzzle. These days, I generally paddle or motor around until I see something that looks promising, some sort of bait activity that looks interesting. Cold, sterile, apparently bait free clear water usually keeps me moving fast out of there. So the main thing is I’m looking for any cues or signals I get from the bait. A mullet flip in winter is exciting. Two or three in one spot, I wet my pants. Little finger sized Mullet hugging a shallow reef, now why the heck are they doing that? Could it be something, perhaps a predator is influencing that?

One thing I’ve noticed when you sort of know you are in Fish but it isn’t working out on the catching is to change up your presentation. One way to know that you are in fish is that either you or your fishing buddy is catching fish and the other person isn’t. I’ve been doing more fishing out of a boat lately and then you are throwing your offering from the same spot to potentially the same spot as your buddy. Sometimes, the catch rate can really vary. The variance often comes down to the exact way the lure is getting presented, how it’s being brought over the structure.

My boat fishing friends and I are really in tune with trying to mimic each other. So let’s say one guy starts catching fish about every cast or every third cast and this continues. The one that’s not will start to try and mimic the other guy’s exact presentation. That often fixes the catch rate so that both are catching fish at a nearly identical rate.

If you are fishing alone, you can still do this. If I really think everything is indicating there are predator fish feeding where I am, I’ll really comb over the spot with a fine tooth comb. It might be about setting up the drift in just the right slot that hits a promising part of the structure. It might be just slowing down the retrieval. Know your tendencies. I tend to work flies and lures too fast. Knowing this, I remind myself to slow things down.

Fishing with others can help. Two or three folks working a structure can cover water better than one. One guy misses the signs that the other picks up on and vice versa.

I know my approach to any spot is to use all my senses to see if I can pick up on anything. Then I try to have a mental picture of the structure. Is it reef, grass, sand, mud and shell, drop offs, guts, bars, humps, what’s the deal. What’s the depth, what’s the current doing. Of course, you may not be able to see the structure, but there are things you can infer and you can eliminate certain possibilities. I’m looking a bird activity. Herons and egrets on a shoreline stalking, they are eating the same stuff the fish do. Osprey and pelicans focused diving in an area, we know there’s bait there. It doesn’t mean you fish directly under them.

I’ve had a fantastic fall and winter of fishing, some out of a boat with a friend or two and some solo missions from the kayak. I’ve watched other kayakers 100 yards from me paddle right by the fish with maybe a half hearted cast or two. I’ve actually gone over to where they paddled by only minutes before and caught one fish after another. I don’t think they are comprehending what they are seeing. Most outings, there’s been stretches where it’s about an every cast a fish catch rate. We’ve had friends come up in other boats and tell us how bad the fishing is and we’ve tore them up in the exact same places. What’s going on I believe is that they aren’t paying attention to the details of Fish sign, structure and presentation.

There’s nothing really random about it. Fish are focused and intentional creatures. They intentionally select spots that vary with tides and bait movements and salinity and water temperatures to increase their comfort level and to increase the odds of getting a meal. I believe a fisherman needs to be intentional too. If you want to go out and anchor up some place and soak some bait to just chill that’s totally cool and kudos to you. Fishing means different things to different people and none of it is wrong.

I like the puzzle and especially like solving it. The puzzle pieces frequently change. As long as I’m out there looking for clues and working solutions, I’m happy. Some days, the math is insanely easy. Some days, I run out of time before I get the solution down. The way I look at it is that fish are super intentional in what they do and they have a lot of freedom to make choices (with physiological limitations) on where they will be. They are driven by hunger, by sex, by the need for security, some of the basic things that drive us. We don’t turn down a delicious easy meal and generally know where to find it and they are about the same.
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By Chubs
#2255192
Thanks both of you - that's all really good advice.

Neumie - I think that in my case from this weekend, there wasn't much variation in the structure of the area I was in, it was mud flats, The river cut, and creek. There wasn't much in the way of marsh in the area, and I didn't really see any oysters from internet reconnaissance to go drift either. That is why I was thinking to pick up and relocate - to get to different structure that was in my area.

But - I really should have tried drifting that river area a few times. I just stayed anchored in the same vicinity I suppose thinking the fish should be in the area. That was obviously not the way to find them.

I'm curious on the drift - were your trout all in the same vicinity; or did you pick them up at random points along your drifts?

Karstopo - I definitely need more time on the water to figure out these cues. It all makes since when I read it online - but once I get out there it's so much info I forget :) With time I'll remember it all.
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By JMS
#2255194
Also look for bait, in the winter especially even minimal bait activity seems to produce...Lot of times I'll find a drainage from a flat fish deep and then move up onto the flat until I find fish


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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By Yaklash
#2255196
What Karstopo said. Solid stuff there....and I'll add a little of my own way of thinking.

I tend to sometimes spend too long fishing one spot and not enough moving, especially from a kayak, but in that case, I think I am erring on the side of good caution. In those cases, I am usually fishing a place I know has good structure, I know has produced in similar conditions, I see some bait and I know the tide is about to pick up speed. As said above, bait in the winter is not as obvious. On deep shell, you could not see a single mullet, all the while, there is a bunch of it out of sight.

I would not worry about any formulas or percentage of your time on the water. Play it by ear. Move until you see signs. If that's 200 yards, it doesn't matter. Fish it. If you get nothing in 30-40 minutes, judge if something is about to happen (anticipated tidal movement) and, if not, move on. Paddling to a spot 3 miles away and passing on promising water all the way there is, IMO, a waste of time.
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By YakRunabout
#2255205
I do not tend to hang around any location too long if there is no action but just keep moving along the bank, looking for any sort of sign or structure like Karstopo and other have indicated above. Sometimes moving to a different environment, like Neumie indicated. The trout support videos are very good at identifying the various signs to look for.

Some signs are very subtle – drifting along a marsh bank in a wide channel I saw a couple of large bubbles on the surface. A cast into the area brought out a redfish. It had apparently slurped the surface not long before and the bubbles remained.

Another time I was drifting with the current along a wide channel, heading for a marsh drain down the channel. Then off to my right I saw a subtle change in the current flow pattern, something was different, so I turned and cast into that area a few times. A few bumps soon resulted in an upper slot red on the line! Subsequent trips have resulted in more fish from this same spot, even when the water flow does not identify the spot on the surface. This area is 40-50 off the bank and usually looks unremarkable. Turns out the 2-3’ depth ledge along the bank, drops into the deeper channel in this area.

A tool that I use a lot is a fish finder. I do not use the ‘fish finder’ aspect as much as I do the depth finder aspect. As I go along and notice any changes in depth, I stop to fish that change area and often have results. These depth changes are generally not visible on the surface. At one marsh drain that I fish a bit there is a 9’ deep hole right near shallow areas and islands. I have never seen any flow pattern or other sign that this hole is there. I have never caught anything out of the hole directly, but have had plenty of red fish from the nearby shallows and marsh banks.

Another aspect that I use is the mapping function to drop a pin at these spots that are not obvious due to surface structures, so that I can find them again on future trips.

When moving from one area to another look for signs along the way, as Yaklash indicated. The first sign I look for is a change in the water flow. I try to fish any change in the flow pattern. If there are other signs there as well, then fish it a bit harder.
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By Neumie
#2255251
Chubs wrote:Thanks both of you - that's all really good advice.

Neumie - I think that in my case from this weekend, there wasn't much variation in the structure of the area I was in, it was mud flats, The river cut, and creek. There wasn't much in the way of marsh in the area, and I didn't really see any oysters from internet reconnaissance to go drift either. That is why I was thinking to pick up and relocate - to get to different structure that was in my area.

But - I really should have tried drifting that river area a few times. I just stayed anchored in the same vicinity I suppose thinking the fish should be in the area. That was obviously not the way to find them.

I'm curious on the drift - were your trout all in the same vicinity; or did you pick them up at random points along your drifts?

Karstopo - I definitely need more time on the water to figure out these cues. It all makes since when I read it online - but once I get out there it's so much info I forget :) With time I'll remember it all.

IMO, fishing with artificials while anchored is not a productive way of fishing, unless it's working a natural pinch point where a tide is moving past; such as a marsh drain or reef point.

I did pick up trout throughout the drift, but on the my first drift (the longest) I established the keeper trout were hanging out along the grassline where the water depth drops some. So on my next three drifts I was able to shorten my drifts up and focused on where the larger trout were hanging out at.

BTW, my tracks were from an October and I had a NW wind.
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By Chubs
#2255255
Well that settles it, I'm going to aim to use my drift sock more than my anchor next outing!

What y'all say makes a lot of sense, because when I've done the opposite is generally when I catch a skunk.

Also, I really need to watch these trout support vids I got! Should have bought the online version instead of the DVD so I could watch it at work :lol:
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By Crusader
#2255257
When you fish marsh for reds -- it is obvious, you just move around until you see or hear them. Occasionally checking deeper channels and drains.

In deeper water is more complicated -- you move around trying to guess most advantageous (to predator) spots and check them for few minutes each: choke points, dropoffs, points, drains, etc.

When in open featureless bay with next to zero structure or depth change -- you need to know (use a pole or a rod to check it) bottom composition and grind/drift areas with right bottom for current season and weather. Plus be always on a lookout for signs -- birds, slicks, etc. In warm times -- drift reefs marked with PVC (up to 7 fow), hard to miss them -- they are packed with boaters usually. In winter -- pick a calm day and fish mud-shell mix in 3-5 fow. Prepare for multi-hours grinds between bites. It can be pretty boring and kayak doesn't have any advantage over the boat in open bay, only disadvantages.
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By TroutSupport.com
#2255316
Find sign and fish it for 20 minutes.. then if you don't get a hit bounce. There is a fine line between grinding structure and and staying too long.. if there are fish in the area on the structure with the bait, then they'll at least strike or swipe (unless the tide is dead or they just totally fed and there is soooo much small bait like shrimp in the water [too much bait can be a problem]). If you get a strike or swipe and the fish misses the bait.. then change to a slower presentation or smaller bait (the reverse works as well as shown in our Big Trout DVD). But don't get caught up switching baits to 'what about this' or that or what's this thing I haven't thrown in 20 years .. "maybe they'll hit this", those are all pitfalls. Switch to smaller or deeper once or twice at most. It's about finding fish on structure with some sort of sign and moving current of some sort; there are other variables of the equation as well that if are not correct, then neither will help you and you might actually have to travel to get to the right area during certain times of year... but if you don't know why you should go there then yes, that's a big waste of time.

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