Where to find the cool fish
A Part Of The What's Biting Series
Better load the ice chest down with plenty of water and sports drinks to make sure you stay hydrated if you’re out fishing during the current heat wave.
It might be hard for anglers to deal with the heat, but the fish have another tactic. They just move to deeper water where the temperatures are cooler.
Of course there are exceptions, especially at first light. I remember being on vacation a few years back and just wanted to do a little fishing before the family decided to rub their sleepy eyes awake.
I headed for the bait shop with my bait bucket and grabbed two dozen live shrimp. From a seawall, I tossed out the live shrimp under a popping cork and gave it couple of jerks to simulate feeding fish. Within seconds, the popping cork disappeared under the surface. I set the hook and reeled in a nice speckled trout. That happened three more times while the sun was coming up.
Then it was over. With sun above the horizon, the fish vacated the area for deeper water where my casts couldn’t reach. I sat there for hour, but never got another bite.
When that happens, it’s time to probe deeper water for the fish with a different kind of cork – a slip cork that can be limited to a certain depth. That means using a tiny little addition to your fishing line called a Bobber Stopper. There are probably other products that achieve the same goal, which is to allow the cork-rigged line to be cast with ease but provide a means to stop the cork at a specific depth.
O.P. Harrison introduced me to the Bobber Stopper at Perdido Pass many years ago. Because there is plenty of structure in the pass from bridge construction to debris left from previous storms, the area is a tackle magnet. If you don’t employ some method to keep your bait off the bottom, you’re going to lose it most of the time, unless you’re lucky enough for a fish to grab it first.
Ultimately, one of the first rules in fishing is you’ve got to put the bait where the fish live. During this time of year, for all but a few minutes each day, the fish are going to gravitate toward deeper water.
By using a slip-cork setup with a method to stop the cork at a certain depth, you are able to keep the bait in the strike zone for a much longer time than with a traditional rig.
What I do is rig up a slip cork with a Bobber Stopper with an 18-inch, 20-pound fluorocarbon leader tied to a 1/0 Kahle hook. Use a weight sufficient to get the bait down quickly. Live bait is the best bet whether it’s live shrimp, croakers, alewives, or menhaden. Cast up current far enough to allow the bait to reach the proper depth, and let the rig drift through the strike zone.
Of course, when you get that strike, make sure the rod has decent backbone to be able to keep the fish from getting to the bottom and cutting you off.
Another great aspect of this fishing method is you never know what you’re going to catch. Most of the time, it’ll be speckled trout and redfish, but it could be flounder or even a mangrove snapper or two.
Check out the local bait shops and ask for a Bobber Stopper or other rig for slip-cork fishing, and increase your chances to toss some fish into the ice chest.