Spring is in the Air

The title sounds kind of like a song I once heard, or was it Love is in the air? Either way it works for me, I can hardly wait to get through this winter and on into the spring. I love the spring, the big trout start running, the weather patterns start changing and we can semi predict a fishing trip.

As a long time guide I have seen the years go by and by and by. But this year Iím grateful to see this winter go by and get her done with. The only problem is this year we have another brown tide predicament. Some of you may be familiar with this phenomenon in which the water looks like tea, dark tea. It makes sight casting almost impossible because of the darkness of the water.

Texas brown tides result from blooms of a microscopic alga called Aureoumbra lagunensis. The individual algal cell is only 4-7 microns in diameter, which means that over 200 brown tide cells sitting side by side would stretch across the period at the end of this sentence. When concentrations of this alga reach 1-2 million cells per milliliter of water, the water appears brown, taking on the color of the alga and thus the term "brown tide." If youíd like more info on the brown tide, you can read about it on the TP&W website. www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/water

My input here is that although its ugly water to deal with, itís not unfishable. When the last brown tide happened 1989-97, we figured out several techniques that worked well for us. The first one that comes to mind was Capt. Lou Austinís remedy. If you know Lou you know that he loves to fish a popping cork. He figured out that if you lightly pop the cork or make it tick more than pop, you would be more successful at catching both trout and redfish. Of course you need a shrimp hanging down under the cork for this to be effective. Maulers were another remedy to the brown tide. Developed by a guide in Port Mansfield, Capt. "Red Bandana" Bob Fuston, Bob came up with a cork named the Mansfield Mauler. It did basically the same thing in that it ticked rather than popped. Worked with not more than 16" of leader down to a light jig and artificial, it was deadly as well.

One other way when we had to produce fish was a Silver Johnson Minnow Spoon instead of a gold one. The gold worked but not as well as the silver. Dropping down in size to 1/8th oz. worked better than the larger ones. These were used more when we were blind casting with spinning tackle.

In 1994 when I decided to start guiding fly fisherman it was almost a necessity that I did that. I had been fly fishing for years but not in the salt. So when I saw some of the salty fly rodders catching fish in the brown tide, it sparked my interest. Guys like Capt. Chuck Skates, Gibb Little and Larry Haines all were "hot" back then catching fish in the brown waters. I fished with Gibb several times and found that not only would these fish take a well presented fly, they did it with gusto. The cool thing was that with the water brown the fish could not see us coming and we could get really close to shallow fish looking for shrimp and crabs along the shore lines of the Lower Laguna.

The reds tailed a lot more then than they do in the clearer water for the same reason, they canít see the food either and they had to "grub" around for it. I could see that this was my cup of tea to remedy the brown tide problem. So I moved into a shallower floating boat and started poling my clients into these pods of tailing redfish. Since they could not see us coming as well as before, they made for easy targets. A small 2 Ĺ" Sea Ducer was the ticket to lots of fish.

So donít be too discouraged with the color of the water, just change up your tactics a little and you can still catch fish. Hopefully we well get the winds of March and April along with the big flood tides of spring to flush this stuff out and away from our pristine fishing and we can go back to site casting them again.

Skipper Ray is a freelance writer and fishing guide in South Padre Island, Texas
where he owns and operate Island Outfitters. Call: 956-943-2798 or Email

Fishing Articles by Skipper Ray

Blind Casting the Flats
Catching and Handling Numbers of Trout
Fishing Guides Perspective
Effective Blind Casting on the Fly
Line Management Techniques
Lures of Choice for the Fall Season
More Tec Tips - King Mackerel
New Trout Techniques
Ready at the Rod
Spring is in the Air
Tarpon Techniques
Tech Tips - "Donít Give Up"
Tech Tips - Itís a Drag
The Ladies Have More Fun
The Chosen One
The "Ibis" Built by Newwater Boatworks
The Old Gold Spoon
Time to Fish Free
It's Red Fishing Time in South Padre
Trout Fishing the Lower Laguna Madre
Trout on Topwater Flies
Wading the Lower Laguna Madre

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