Anglers are never too old to learn
Catching any fish species requires a certain technique, and I’ve always said fishing is easy if someone shows you how to do it. This was never more evident than when we spent a few days vacation a few weeks ago at Pawley’s Island, S.C. The place we rented was right on the water, and one morning as I sat sipping my coffee I watched a local fisherman casting what appeared to be a topwater plug into the dark water of the inlet. His setup involved using a popping cork above what appeared to be a small shrimp impaled on a hook. Curious, I walked over and asked him about what he was doing.
The “plug” he was using was actually a cone-shaped float and was placed a few feet above the bait. The float, he explained, caused a popping or gurgling noise as it was worked through the water and any predator fish would mistake it for smaller fish feeding on the surface. With an easy meal at hand, the predator fish like a fluke or redfish would rush to investigate and ultimately see the bait below the float.
My new mentor explained he prefers to use live shrimp for bait but the mud minnows and small blues in the water often make short work of natural bait, so he often uses an artificial to imitate a real shrimp. I noticed the float he was using was red and white and I asked if color mattered. “Not at all. It really doesn’t matter because it’s an attractor,” the fisherman said. I asked him what was the best time of day to catch fish and he said he liked fishing when the tide is rising because the weakfish and reds are in close near the weedline feeding on small crabs and other small critters. “When the tide is going out, I fish near the creek mouths where fish often lurk waiting to capture an easy meal as it floats by. The popper simply calls their attention to the bait below” he told me.
When my friend and I fished Black Lake for bass, we almost always used a topwater Hula Popper or Scum Frog in the thick weeds and lily pads, and I wondered if the saltwater fish he was seeking hit the popper rather than the bait below. “Yes,” he said. “Sometimes the reds will hit the popper and if that happens frequently enough I’ll attach a treble hook to the popper – or better yet, I’ll simply switch to a topwater lure,” he explained.
What I don’t know about saltwater fishing would fill a book, but this particular morning I was able to write a paragraph or two and fill in some blank spaces. As I said, learning to fish is easy once someone shows you how, and it’s never too late to learn something new.