Feed the Machine

With Thanksgiving week in our rear view, it’s only fitting that this blog post deal with some sort of diet intervention, particularly a tryptophan detox. I ate so much turkey and sides that my 170lb frame turned sideways probably looked like I ate a soccer ball. Ok, so maybe not, but I sure as heck felt like I did. However, that’s not the alarming part, the concern is after I ate all of that food I felt myself ready to eat again hours later and this continued till all the Thanksgiving leftovers we’re gone. In short, I was 3 bites away from a Turkey coma J , I’m sure most who will read this will have experienced similar, and if not, I applaud your self-discipline. All jokes aside I did find myself grazing a bit more than normal, which got me to thinking about one of my favorite phrases when I’m trout fishing…”Feed the Machine.”

Although it’s not an original phrase, I use it in an original sense. Those who share fishing reports with me have probably heard me use this before, and I use it particularly when someone is on a red hot bite for 2 or 3 days. In essence it touches on getting in on the action while the getting’s good. The machine I’m referring to is speckled trout, and the “feed” part…that’s your lure. Although the complexities of the phrase remain simple, the concept I think is far more complex. Mike McBride said in one of his recent articles that “His mission (while guiding all those years) became one of proving theories – right or wrong; searching for the science of it all.” In the feed the machine sense, I think it’s very scientific and it relates to the tide and moon. Keep in mind, I’m a wade fisherman, so by that very point I’m already left or right of center. That being said, we tend to think more about the environmental conditions, since we are standing in it, particularly the ones that impact the moon and earth’s gravitational pull. So, here is my theory – big fish eat in very small windows, and from my experience it’s either on a new or full moon, when the tide is nearing its highest point in the range. Don’t ask me how I know, because my response will be “Fight Club”. If you’ve ever seen the movie, then you know what I’m talking about, however if you haven’t, the only rule of fight club is that you never talk about fight club. The fight club in my sense are the areas that I had in my spots repertoire that consistently produced big trout in South Mississippi. Some who read my blog know those spots, and to you I say fight club J However, as good as these spots were at producing big fish, they didn’t always produce big fish. Two times a months for about 3 or 4 days at a time with 2 hours in those days, I fed the machine, and it was solely dependent on tide and moon phase. If the environmental conditions were conducive, I was out there…I cashed every kitchen pass, I promised to mow the lawn and wash the cars in a bikini top, whatever I had to do to get out there, I did it. Some nights it was 1-2 in the morning, but I made do at work knowing that I gave myself the best opportunity to catch trophy fish. To prove my point, my best night for quantity and quality was 45 degrees, with a light rain at 0100 in the morning. If an innocent bystander saw me emerge from the darkness in those type of conditions, at that time, they probably would’ve imagined they had seen a ghost, but I did it. Funny story to highlight my point, one night I was fishing and it was about midnight and I could hear and see a couple behind me talking, they we’re giddy like most are when they start dating, about 10 minutes later I could see them making out, and I was trying to mind my own business until….I got a hit. I was fishing a catch 2000 made by MirrOlure, and when I felt the hit, I thought to myself how and where am I going to land this fish. After fighting her for a couple of minutes, she got close enough to see that it was a pretty big trout.

As a result of the time and me not thinking clearly, I decided that beaching her would be the best bet. Unfortunately for the couple and fortunate for me it was right where they were making out. As I got closer to the couple I could hear the girl, who was startled say, “Oh my God, you scared the hell out of me….I can’t believe you’re fishing this late, etc…” The guy on the other hand, walks closer to me and says, “You catch anything?” I pause a minute, then lift a 25.5” 6lb trout from the water. In short, he almost fainted. After that, all he wanted to talk about was fishing, almost to the point of wading back in the water with me leaving his lady friend behind...let’s just say she was a little upset. I’m pretty sure they broke up after that….just kidding J It was funny though, and I’m sure eye opening for that guy.

That said, the “science” that Capt McBride talked about was A LOT of trial and error, but the window’s exist. That guy may or may not have tried that spot again and chances are if he did he didn’t catch anything, but that’s the hard part. Often times we give up on a spot that looks and feels conducive for big trout, because luck eludes us sometimes. That’s why I say dialing them in is the hard part, so in an attempt to eloquently describe my point to help you the next time you’re staring at a tide guide and you decide to target big trout. Compare it to pouring a glass of tea. If you’re pouring someone a glass of tea, and you’ve already filled their glass half full, the moment you pull that pitcher back and that flow of tea decreases into that glass, the window has opened. However, when you stop pouring the tea and the flow stops, the window has closed. Now translate that to a tide guide, when you see that arc of the tide starting to flatten out before reaching its max or min, depending on your estuary, the window has opened. However, when the tide flips or comes to a stand-still, the window has closed.

I urge you to keep that visual in mind, without a doubt this will help you get in tune with your estuary and once that happens more fish will be on the end of your line. Also, keep in mind that it may be different for different estuaries, its up to you to do the homework. However, just don’t forget, if you have a stellar trip based on understanding the science of it all and your hard work has paid off, don’t hesitate to cash in all your chips to get back out there and feed the machine.

Tight lines and God Bless. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Chris