Time to Fish Free

My wife the dreamer likes to go out fishing this time of the year because she likes the whole picture. What she means by that is we will leave the dock before sunrise at about 5:30 am and as we head up the Laguna Madre to the three Islands area she can watch the day beginning to break and the sun breaking over the horizon. The colors are so awesome that she almost cries as we speed up the bay on our Sea Foam Green Ibis. I on the other hand get to see this just about every day and I never take one of these beautiful sunrises for granted.

Another reason she likes to go fishing this time of year is she likes the cooler temperatures before the heat of summer and the busy schedules we will both require of ourselves. She does not need to catch a fish as she is grateful to just enjoy the scenery of birds, fish in the water, and the general beauty that the Lower Laguna holds for those who choose to just look, and relax. This is the time of the year that she loves because itís free shrimping time for trout on the Laguna Madre.

We anchor up in the Intercoastal Canal where we can hit the edge of the drop off and begin fishing. The trout use this drop off as a highway where they can slip off to deep water for safety and comfort as well as feed along the grass line before the drop. The edge is a virtual restaurant full of all kinds of bait such as pin perch, croakers, mullet, shrimp and even bally-hoo. There are small crabs and lug worms along this drop as well. So why wouldnít they be along this area, if I were a fish thatís where I would be.

There really isnít any real trick to free Shrimping the drop, the only thing you need to do is have enough anchor line to get your 3 to 1 scope so as not to drag into the fish youíre trying to catch. Make your stopping point at about thirty feet from the edge when the anchor line goes tight. Now, I like to use a #2 treble for my free shrimping for several reasons. One is itís harder for the smaller fish to swallow the hook deep enough to hurt them. Secondly, the larger hook adds a little more weight to the shrimp for casting purposes and to sink the shrimp once it hits the water. Thirdly, I donít typically need a net to land the fish because the bigger hook acts as a gaff of sorts.

So with the #2 hook tied to the end of my 30# shock leader, I bait up with a shrimp sticking one leg of the treble behind the eyes about 3/8 inch and just barely under the forward horn. Cast the shrimp to the edge of the grass and let it sink as freely as possible. Most times the trout will take the offering on the fall. However, there are times later on in the year that the pin perch or piggys ( South Padre Piranhas) start to attack as soon as the bait hits the water. This is where the trick comes in. Donít set the hook on the vibrating piggy bites. Wait till you feel one or two solid thumps and then set the hook, that will be the trout bite. So basically youíre feeding the piggys and catching the trout. If you set the hook on the piggy bite, you will most likely snatch your bait off the hook and leave it for the piggys and or the trout for a free lunch.

When the piggys get really aggressive there is another trick. Catch them and filet them and cut them into strip baits. Hook the cut bait on one end so that it will flutter in the current and also when the piggys attack the cut bait. The trout will take it away from them and you can still catch trout among the masses of perch.

This technique will only work if you have enough trout around to be attracted to the vibrations of the piggys working on the bait. So be patient and let the piggys bite and tear at the bait and wait till the trout thumps it once or twice and starts to swim off. Then you can catch trout right out of the piggys. By the way we sometimes catch a few flounder with this same technique as well as redfish.

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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