Targeting Trophy Trout; Angler Insight Across State Lines (Part 2)

Welcome back everyone! As you may recall from Part I, we introduced our 3 anglers as well as dove into the responses they provided to the first 3 questions. However for those of you just now joining us let me give you a cliff notes version of this 2-part series.

All too often we hear the phrase, “what happens there doesn’t apply here.” It’s an angling expression used to highlight the diversity among our fisheries, but I’ve often wondered if it’s an expression we use to justify our short sidedness. So to explore the tangible truths of that statement I asked 3 notable trout purist, from different regions (states), their opinion of a myriad of questions and scenarios. What each provided back was valuable insight to their trout fishing world. It also provides some independent clarity that maybe each fishery, and how we fish it, is more similar than what we think. So to avoid any further delay lets dig in to part II of “Across State Lines.”

EQUIPMENT

Good equipment and trout fishing go together like red beans and rice. From detecting the ever subtle tap with a sensitive rod to throwing the hottest new lure spooled on a fancy new reel. One things for certain, trophy trout purist purchase what they need to get the job done. So when I asked these questions, I was purely seeking insight as to what equipment each angler feels is most important. In other words, where would they spend the money to ensure nothing is left to chance.
Specifically, the question was to rank order these 5 items (Rod, Reel (castability), Lure profile, Lure Color, Line) in terms of importance to you while chasing trophy trout.

Ralph’s response - 1. Lure profile 2. Line 3. Rod 4. Lure Color 5. Reel

Dane’s response – 1. Lure Profile 2. Lure color 3. Reel 4. Rod 5. Line

Trey’s response – 1. Line 2. Reel 3. Rod 4. Lure Profile 5. Lure Color

In true transparency, all anglers stated that rank ordering this list was tough because they all have value during one form or another. Having said that, that’s the reason I asked. Trophy Trout are about chance and catching them isn’t normal – the slimmest of margins often dictate success and failure. That’s why Trey listed Line as his number 1 simply because line failure during the fight can be the difference between heartbreak and jubilation. He also quantified that decision reflecting back on his many clients, who are adamant about fishing with their own equipment that isn’t high end, and still get plenty of big bites during his charters.

Ralph and Dane, on the other hand, had the same mindset which differed from Trey. They both stated that you can’t catch what doesn’t bite. Thus, placing Lure Profile as their number 1.

The next 2 questions deal with line specifically. I asked braid or mono? Why?

Overwhelmingly all 3 anglers stated braid was the line they prefer to use due to the increased sensitivity it provides. Dane and Trey both use fluorocarbon leaders while Ralph uses straight braid. He even added that he’s never used a leader and feels it’s one more failure point between you and a potential trophy. As mentioned Dane and Ralph do use fluorocarbon. Dane typically uses a 4’ 20lb leader while Trey uses a 3’ 25lb leader. Both prefer Segaur Blue Label.

WHAT’S SO DIFFERENT?

As discussed earlier, the differences in estuaries from VA to TX varies greatly fueling the opening statement. So to get right to it, I asked each angler what differentiates your estuary from other trophy trout estuaries?

Ralph concisely stated, we have deeper water in Charleston, SC. We also have 3 rivers feeding the harbor which is the reason the depths are what they are.

Dane independently responded that the reason Mobile Bay is unique is because of its deeper water. He stated that the bay on average is about 10’ deep with some areas exceeding 30’. In addition, another unique quality is that the watershed from the Rivers play a big impact to how people fish the delta.

Trey, on the other hand, stated that lack of tidal movement is the Texas Coast’s unique quality. He stated that E. Matagorda, in particular, is like a big pond with little to no tide movement, especially if the wind doesn’t blow. With minimal movement and watershed, Trey stated that salinity levels stay fairly high for consistent periods of time.

Although this isn’t earth shattering information it is worth noting that 2 of the anglers stated that they fish deep water estuaries. Despite being thousands of miles apart and not knowing each other, their areas fish similarly. So why is this important? I’d offer that to become better anglers in your own estuary, maybe seek approach and technique displayed by fisherman in fisheries similar to your home waters. How they approach trophy trout in Charleston maybe similar to how they approach them in Mobile – so forth and so on. I’ve experienced similar situations in my own fishing endeavor. Often times I’ll fish an area and draw similarities to maybe what I’ve experienced in a totally different state. In short, keep an open mind. Don’t let your state bias overwhelm situations similar to yours.

THE PERFECT DAY

For those of us who’ve spent a good amount of time on the water you can almost feel when it’s going to be a catching versus a fishing day. Intricate qualities from wind direction and speed to visible indicators like fog or water clarity - we all have tangibles that contribute to those epic trips. Moreover, it prompted my last question to our 3 anglers and I have to admit that I was excited to hear and read their responses.

The question is, “If you could handpick a day, during a certain time of year, to chase trophy trout what would it look like? Be descriptive…”
Browsing my notes and reading their responses, the first similarity was “Overcast”. In other words, cloud cover limiting visibility to either present a bait or coerce our speckled predators into eating. “Ok,” I thought, “I would have guessed that.” Then I kept reading...

“Just enough wind”… “get some ripples on the water”…. “certain wind direction to break up the surface of the water.”

“This is interesting,” I continued to say to myself. Then I kept reading…

“3 days before the full moon” … “preferably 3 days prior to a full moon” … “before a full moon”

Here’s why I’m excited about what I read. Each of these 3 anglers almost offered the exact same response. Think about that for a minute. A tackle maker from South Carolina, an avid angler from Lower Alabama, and a guide and tournament angler along the TX Coast providing the same response to what they’d draw up as their perfect day. Even crazier is that Trey and Ralph stated the exact same water temp during the same time of the year (spring). Dane even stated spring in his response but didn’t give me a water temp, but I’d imagine it would be in the ballpark.

Here’s what I’d offer based on their responses - speckled trout are speckled trout. They aren’t Texans or Floridians, they don’t hail from the Magnolia or Palmetto states – we do! All speckled trout do is eat, reproduce and try not to get eaten. Their simple creatures that we overcomplicate trying to catch. We fixate on our home water bias and let confidence, or lack thereof, overshadow our approach. I am/was biased in my trout fishing endeavor but what I hope this article suggest is that maybe we’re a lot closer than most initially thought. Now I’m not saying anglers from North Carolina should start throwing corky’s all the time, but I am suggesting that corky’s, a tried and true Texas bait, be considered if the right conditions exist.

FOR THE LAST TIME

I truly hope that this article was informative and that everyone at least learned something. Whether it was affirmation in their own approach or the widening of their own fishing aperture - don’t let state lines limit your imagination. I can’t thank Mr. Ralph, Dane and Capt Trey enough for taking the time to talk trout fishing. Beyond the dialogue, I learned that our community, although geographically expansive, is pretty tight knit. These are each great men and even better anglers. So to close out this 2-part series, it’s only fitting I use the words of Mr. Ralph – here’s to a steady barometer, a good cigar and holding on!

Tight lines everyone…God Bless!
Chris