Adjustments - Rockport 10/11 - 2CoolFishing
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:56 AM   #1
pocjetty
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Adjustments - Rockport 10/11

The first real front of the year is due today. I know it's technically fall, but this was the real last day of summer. The wind blew 20+ from the SE until late last night, but this morning it was pretty mild. The water has cooled because of fewer hours of sunlight each day, and the cooler the water the less silt it can hold. So even though the wind had howled until a couple of hours before dawn (at most), it had cleared enough to be pretty nice - plenty of color, but not mud. I went to a spot where I've been expecting fish to show up for a month, but they so far hadn't arrived.

The piggy/pinfish are bunching up like they do this time of year, and the schools of mullet were bunched a bit tighter than they have been. I decided to fish with a MiroLure Catch2000. From the first cast I started getting "drive-by" hits. Fish were popping the lure, but not even threatening to get a hook in them. The hits were coming on every cast, and some of them were pretty sharp, but I wasn't even bending the rod. I wrote it off as small fish, and maybe skipjack. But a few of them really felt like trout to me, so I made my first adjustment. I stopped fishing and took a couple of minutes to dig out a stone and sharpen the hooks.

The first cast afterward, I got a nice hit and a keeper-sized trout came out of the water and threw the hook - so I knew that there were at least some worthwhile fish there. A couple more strikes, a couple more empty retrieves, and I made my second adjustment. I started working the lure slow. Painfully slow. Almost like I would work a Corky in winter. And immediately I started getting harder strikes and solid hookups. The Catch2000 is a twitch bait, and I experimented with twitching it as I slowly retrieved, but that just seemed to get me less bites. The magic was a steady, slow, slow, slow retrieve.

Because of the little bit of wind and current, the angle that I cast made a difference in how high the lure rode in the water column. And as I dialed in on the speed and angle, the action got really fast. If I missed a fish, I just stopped reeling for a moment and then resumed, and I would almost always get another shot on the way in. None were huge, but none threatened to be throwbacks. I kept my first five, like I almost always do, and released a bunch.

When I got in, there was an old man and his wife also leaving. (By old, I mean about my age.) He asked me how I did, and I told him. He asked questions, and I told him exactly where and how I caught them, as I usually do. And he started analyzing: the incoming cold front, the high tide, the moon, the time of year, etc. Really lecturing, and then telling me what kind of lure and presentation I should have used to catch more fish. So when he finally stopped talking long enough to inhale, I asked him how they had done today. "Oh, we only caught three." That's when I made my last adjustment of the day. I quit talking to him and finished packing up to head to the house.

The sky was black to the NW, and I felt the first hint of cold air as I took the pictures of these fish. Within minutes, the wind was whipping, and a little rain began to drop. It was a good morning of fishing, and the fish were back where they were supposed to be. The first cool weather just got here, and I'm excited about that. I'm still all slimed up, and I've got dinner for tonight. It just doesn't get much better.

The first thing people do when you say you caught fish is ask "How big?". I've been guilty of it myself. All in all, it was a pretty pedestrian bunch of fish today - about 15 1/2" to 18 1/2". But I can't think of many more satisfying mornings than this one.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:37 PM   #2
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Great report, I too eagerly await the true arrival of the fall fishing pattern.
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Old 10-11-2019, 04:17 PM   #3
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Yum yum catch em up! Five nice fryers right there. Good report, I always like to hear the rest of the story.
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Old 10-11-2019, 05:48 PM   #4
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I've missed these threads. I'm in town for today and tomorrow, I might come harass you.
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Old 10-11-2019, 06:15 PM   #5
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Good report. Sharp hooks make a difference. Good information on adjusting your presentation. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-11-2019, 06:50 PM   #6
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Great report, as always.
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Old 10-11-2019, 10:26 PM   #7
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I’ve always enjoyed your reports Sir. Well written, and lots of information.
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Old 10-12-2019, 12:25 AM   #8
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Ditto on all the great comments. I really enjoy your posts and learn a few things every time.
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Old 10-12-2019, 01:40 PM   #9
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Patterns?

Edit to add "Great and informative post POC!" I felt a bit like I experienced it myself which is a big compliment to your writing.

I came to the site today to ask how to work the phases of a cool front in the surf.

The day of, and right before the front, I figured the best.

A day later there is a still a decent north wind and some waves in the chocolate milk surf. Usually after the wind blows a day or so there is a calm day or two and then the SE gets stronger as the next front sucks air from the Gulf.

After a front like this in fresh water I don't remember the bass picking up all that strong in the calm days. How is it in the surf?
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Old 10-12-2019, 02:14 PM   #10
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It was a long, hard summer for me in a number of ways. I think it was the hardest year of fishing of my entire life. I rarely found two fish together, and a lot of places/situations that are generally automatic were only holding the occasional stray fish. I know what it's like to grind, and I don't mind doing it once in a while. But week after week, month after month, it wears pretty thin. I really needed that trip.

A couple of tips I should mention from yesterday's trip:

Many fishermen, when they get a couple of hits and they know there are fish around them, won't stop to make an adjustment because they don't want to lose an opportunity. So they won't do things like stopping to sharpen a hook, or switching a 1/4 oz. jighead for a 1/8 oz. (Or stopping to cut and re-tie a leader that is frayed from trout teeth.) Yesterday was a good example of why that is short-sighted. I would have gotten lots of hits, but I don't think I would have landed many fish without sharpening the hooks.

I was fishing with an 8.3:1 reel. Those high-speed reels are all the rage, and it's hard enough to fish slowly with one. But a lot of fishermen, when they start getting bites, get that adrenalin going and start cranking faster. They want to get as many shots as they can, before they quit biting. I've watched people that I was fishing with, or near, find a retrieve that is working. But after catching a couple of fish, they get all amped up and start cranking faster and faster - and getting frustrated because they can't seem to get the bites. You have to really commit to fishing that slowly. And it helps to have a lower-speed reel.

When you're slow-fishing something like a Corky or a Catch2000, and there is any wave action to speak of, the movement of the water will give that lure a lot more motion that you might think. This winter when the water is clear, try to watch for it on a few casts. Get it close enough to see, and stop reeling - watch how much those lures move in response to even small wave action. When you stop reeling, and then start again, it really looks like the bait darted forward. You don't always have to give a twitch bait a violent twitch. There are times (especially at night) when I never reel the lure. I move my rod tip in a very, very slow sweep; and only when I have completed a sweep I move my rod forward and reel in slack. I try to never have a feeling like I am actually pulling the bait with my reel.

When the fish are actively feeding and biting hard, you can't go wrong. And sometimes it takes a twitch or a pop to provoke a strike. But the rest of the time, you've got to offer them some easy calories. Sometimes that's pulling across an ambush point. But sometimes it's just slowing things down to make it look like a free meal. As Tom Waits says, "There's always free cheddar in the mousetrap, baby."
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