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Chris Martin

Capt. Chris Martin proudly owns and operates Bay Flats Lodge in Seadrift, TX, overlooking San Antonio Bay. Chris has been fishing Texas Gulf Coast waters, from the Galveston Bay system to the San Antonio Bay system, since he was eight years old.

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April 16, 2012

"On Top of the World"

by Chris Martin

Every time I tell someone that the month of May is one of my favorite times of the year, they often look at me as if I'm a stranger to the Gulf coast area. One reason this happens, I believe, is because they don't understand why I would choose such a windy month for being one of my favorite months of the year. Well, they're right. May is generally a very windy month. But tossing the subject of heavy winds aside, May also normally indicates to those of us in-the-know that there is some truly spectacular top water action headed our way in the immediate or very near future. And where do I want to be once the action has turned-on up top? Well, there's no place I'd rather be than right here in the San Antonio Bay region. Although my top water results varied somewhat in March and April, the bite on top should only grow in significance and consistency with each passing day and week as we progress through May. It's only a matter of time now that those of us who live for the thrill of surface casting will be able to reap the rewards of doing so on an almost daily basis in most all of our coastal bay systems. The strong winds of May will primarily be out of the south, and this southerly influence will bring with it higher tides, additional daylight, warmer water, and distinct pods of bait fish among the flats and shallows – all of which are precursors to a successful top water bite.

My recent schedule has treated me with the rare delight of me being able to scout areas the day before entertaining many of my fishing parties. On these scouting expeditions, like I said earlier, I'm still finding that the top water bite remains irregular as we near the end of April. Here recently, I've experience days where I'll toss cast after cast with little to attention being paid to my lure. Then, the very next day I'll stumble upon an aggressive bite on top that lasts a short while and then suddenly declines without warning. I did have a couple days of notable top water action this month, but nothing like what should be in store for us next month. So, until the bite on top turns on strong, you'll find me continuing to alternate my baits between that of soft plastics and that of surface-walkers. However, I'm more than ready to stop using plastics at a moment's notice. The time to do so should come any day now.

In order for me to be ready to take full advantage of all of the upcoming fun, I need to be prepared. The first thing on my list of things to do is to inspect some of the top water baits that I use on a more regular basis – the ones that have consistently produced for me and that are the ones I have the utmost confidence in. I look for rust on the hooks, the split-rings, and on the nose loops, often replacing any or all of these pieces. The body of hard baits can often take on a stain or two of their own, but can often be easily cleaned with a little elbow grease and the proper cleanser for the job. Following inspection, I make sure to give each plug a thorough rinsing with freshwater. In fact, I often rinse all my lures that I carry on my trips on a daily basis, regardless of whether I used them that day, or not. It's a good habit to get into, and one that you'll only benefit from in the future, especially given the ever increasing cost of lures these days.

So, which top water baits are best, and which ones should you use? Well, I'm not going to tell you which lures you have to use, or which ones are best for you. There's a wide variety of manufacturers making many different sizes and colors that are readily available today, with more being introduced all the time. All I can do is tell you about the ones that I've chosen to use in the past and that I have been very pleased with. In recent years, some of my all-time favorites have included the Top Dogs, the She Dogs, the Super Spooks, the Spook Juniors, and the Skitter Walks and the Skitter Walk Juniors. However, there are some new ones out there made by Texas Tackle Factory that I've now rapidly grown fond of – TTF's GunDog series. The GunDog series consists of three top water baits, the Flush, the Dummy, and the Little Dummy. The largest in the series is the Flush (5 in., 7/8 oz.) which is enhanced with a dual rattle system – one loud clicking ball, and multi-BB rattles in the belly. What the Flush brings to the table is a top water presentation never before seen by fish. Instead of the standard side-to-side walk-the-dog action produced by other top water baits, the Flush retrieves in a smooth "S" pattern allowing you to work the bait really slow or really fast. The two smaller baits, the Dummy (4-3/8 in., 5/8oz), and the Little Dummy (3-1/2 in., ½ oz), each have bumps along the side of the bait giving it more presence in the water – a bigger wake, an enhanced sound profile, and a unique hook presentation.

When it comes to the discussion of which colors you should use, I have to admit that I'm of the old-school way of thinking when it comes to this topic. I've always chosen the use of dark colors on dark, overcast days and at night, and have always saved bright colors for bright daylight hours in clean, clear water conditions. You'll find some folks that'll tell you that because of the pronounced silhouette they establish in any water or light condition, dark-colored baits can be used effectively year-round in any and all conditions. And I have a close friend that will throw nothing but bone-colored top waters, all year long. Until I become a fish myself, I may not be able to tell you what colors work best, and for what reasons. The simple trend I've stuck with to-date that seems to work for me is my use of the top water baits that have consistently produced for me in the past and, consequently, that I've developed a certain level of confidence in. You'll need to decide for yourself based upon your own experiences and confidences. Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.



April 02, 2012

Springtime Tactics

by Captain Chris Martin

Since spring is now here, let's talk a moment about the wind. It is at this time each year that we can expect to have winds blowing for what often may seem like eternity, and sometimes they'll be blowing rather hard. When it's really windy like this, I like to locate active bait that is showering out of the water. I'll make my approach to the proper bait-laden area as slowly and as quietly as possible. I find that on some days the bait will be more widespread, and that the bait fish are located primarily in dirty water against the windward side. But on other days, I may find the bait to be in clear water that's located along the leeward side. I idle the boat upwind of where I choose to begin my wade session, and once I've gotten out of the boat, I try to concentrate my efforts to within a 100-yard radius of my starting point. Now then, in determining whether I'm going to fish the windward side or the leeward side of any particular shoreline or back lake, my decision always comes back to whether or not I have located bait. Granted, finding the bait can be difficult, but the windy conditions that are so commonly characteristic of this season may just prove to be one of your biggest obstacles of all. Learning where and when to fish with the winds often determines whether or not I get to brag at the end of the day. Adding to wind difficulties are the other intrinsic obstacles which inherently accompany the upcoming months of April and May – transitions in water temperatures, air climate, and tide levels. And although day-to-day top water results seem to vary quite a bit, it will only be a short time before avid top water enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the love of their chosen area of expertise on a daily basis.

April brings with it the advancement of much warmer air and water temperatures and sets off a biological alarm clock within trout which signals to them that this is the start of their annual spawning season – an event held primarily over sandy shorelines. So, remember that it's at this time in the year when you will not be restricted to finding prized fish just over mud and grass structure – if the mud of the back lakes becomes too much for you, simply scout nearby sandy shorelines for the presence of bait. But regardless of where you find yourself wading, try to first remember a couple of the springtime rules. One is that you should always make it a point to wade at a slow pace. And another rule is that you should attempt to blanket an entire area with casts in different directions prior to making any moves forward or sideways. When I'm fishing with a group of people, I like the group to move and stop with me. And if my group is catching fish, I always tell them to stay right where they are, because every time you take steps you tend to create clouds or you could possibly spook the fish. Also when fishing the sand in April, I like to slow the rate of my retrieve to the point where my plastic bait is just "crawling" along within the lower water column because this is where area just above the bottom that large female trout prefer to lay when spawning. The small male trout fertilize the egg's that the females have ejected upon the sandy bottom, and because of this I've often found that the smaller male trout hang suspended above the big females, thus resulting in me catching smaller trout whenever I happen to be working my lure in the middle or upper water columns.


Just as-like when I'm looking for the presence of bait on windy days in backcountry lakes, I'll need to locate nervous bait while targeting the sandy shorelines. I'll look for small, round slicks popping up near the bank, and I'll concentrate on points that extend out into the bay further than others – openings that lead into the back lakes that have protruding points are definitely good areas to fish. I also like to wade in areas where the bay bottom is configured with pronounced undulations, as big trout will often lie in the associated wash-out areas while waiting for an opportunity to ambush unsuspecting baitfish. With air temperatures starting to climb between 80 and 90 degrees, look for the sandy shorelines to heat up during late April and early May, especially during the middle of the day, or late in the afternoon. And as usual for this time of the year, the top water action will also begin to heat-up as April progresses, so now is a great time to blow the dust off your favorite surface walker and get to work. If when tossing your favorite surface plug you find that the fish appear to be interested, but that they just aren't inhaling the lure, try experimenting with different retrieves. I like a steady walk-the-dog retrieve until I get a blowup, then I let it sit for a few seconds and just give it a quick twitch, or two (9 out of 10 times they'll come right back to it).

There's always something fun going on around the Lodge, and this spring is no exception. Do you have the best recipe ever? Then enter Bay Flats Lodge 1st Annual San Antonio Bay Recipe Challenge. Just email your best original recipe to [email protected] and you could win a free trip for three people to Bay Flats Lodge. The winner will receive lodging and meals for one night and full day of fishing with one of our professional fishing guides (a package valued at $1,200.00). Remember to practice CPR, "Catch, Photo, and Release", whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O'Connor/Seadrift region.

Captain Chris Martin
[email protected]

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