Fishing the Surface with Top Water Baits.
Fishing around the inshore waters, flats and back bays, I have always preached to my clients that fish don’t always hang out on the bottom to feed. For that matter, offshore species don’t either.
It is very important to find out where in the water column the fish will be feeding. The water column refers to the surface, mid depths and the bottom. It doesn’t matter whether you use artificials or live baits, follow these simple suggestions and you will increase your chances of catching more fish.
Fishing the surface with floating lures can be done almost everywhere. You can cast baits in six inches of water all the way out to hundreds of feet deep. Best time to fish floating baits is in the early morning or dusk. Fish will feed on the surface in these low light conditions. These tips are for general information so don’t rule out your favorite white or yellow topwater, because they can catch fish too.
Also when choosing a floating artificial bait color, try to “Match the Hatch”. That is making sure the lure closely matches the type and size of bait in the area. If small mullet are schooling up and down the mangroves, then chose a similar looking lure. The only requirement when retrieving the lure is to make it look as natural as possible. I retrieve with short little jerks in between reeling, letting the lure do it’s magic.
One of the most successful methods of working a top water lure is called “Walk the Dog”. This works well with MirroLure’s Top Dog and also with others as well.
How to Walk the Dog: Surface walkers are retrieved with a twitching action called “walking-the-dog.” Make as long a cast as possible, and then retrieve the lure back to you in a straight line while twitching your rod. This will make the lure dance quickly from side-to-side. Each time you pop your rod tip, you will hear a sonic click coming from your lure. This “fish calling” rattle inside the echo chamber of the Dog produces explosive strikes.
The fishing should be outstanding in August, pretty much a continuation of July. Weather and water temperatures are consistently very warm which makes the fish lethargic during the midday. Fishing early in the morning, using the incoming tide or fishing late afternoon/early evening, is your best bet.
I have been using the top of the incoming tide to catch a variety of fish on the flats. Finding an area that has grass with sand holes and moving water has been the ticket. These types of areas generally hold the bait fish, pinfish and white bait, which attracts the larger species such as redfish, trout, mackerel, ladyfish and sharks. Try different flats, some are better than others.
On a recent charter trip, four college kids from Texas joined me for their summer fishing break. We set up on a very active grass flat in Clearwater and slammed the trout and redfish. All of the guys caught over 30 trout up to 18 inches and at least a dozen redfish. Most of the fish were caught on live shrimp under a float. Cody had the honors catching the biggest red of 28 inches. Chris added a nice 18 inch black drum to the mix as well.
August will be a very active month for fishing the shallows of Clearwater Bay. The weather and water conditions are usually very stable and that’s what the fish like. As long as it stays consistent, minus the rain showers, the fishing will continue with lots of catching going on.
Capt. Gary Burch owns and operates All Catch Charters and specializes in live baits and artificials. He guides inshore, flats and backcountry from Clearwater to Tarpon Springs. To reach Capt. Gary for a charter, please call 727 458-6335 or visit his website:
Capt. Gary Burch