We are still having the rough, rainy weather common to this part of the year so I haven’t attempted a DIY redfish kayak trip yet. Looking hard at the weekend of March 15. Unfortunately the tides change this time of year to a pattern not conducive to my index for predicting fish in the marsh. The next good high tide early in the morning won’t be until middle of July. There are places in Louisiana not so affected by tides but I have a place to stay in Ocean Springs so I’m trying to find a tide that’s not optimum but at least suitable for sight casting. I’m liking the tide profile for the weekend of March 15-16 as it is a very negative early morning tide which should leave skinny water during the middle of the day. I don’t really care for incoming tides much because the fish have to come in to the marsh rather than being fat and happy on a high tide and being forced out by an outgoing tide and into the little creeks and bays I know so well. I am more worried about having sunshine anyway as sunny days have been far and few between. I have my fingers crossed.
So I’m trying to fill up my time with freshwater fishing as I wait for a good opportunity to go to the coast. Redear spawn about a month before the bluegills start. I tend to think March is the redear spawn around here, though later spawns occur. Redear are pretty tough to catch as they tend to spawn in deeper water and their diet is different from bluegills. Redears are also called “shellcrackers” because they like snails and small mussels. That fact has me thinking about something that happened at the office lake when it was new.
I once had great success on catfish around the business office using a snail pattern. The the lake was new and it was full of catfish. What turned me on to the snail thing was a catfish I caught whose belly was bulging and when I squeezed him he made a sound like cornflakes being crushed. I examined the contents of his belly and he was full of little black snails about an inch long. Well I thought it would be nuts trying to fish a snail as a fly but on a lark I made some and they worked great. The fly worked so well I even sight casted one working the bank by casting onto the mud in front of him. He wiggled out of the water to eat it. I don’t know why I stopped using it, maybe because I’m not fond of catfish, but I thought I would give it a shot again, thinking it might be a good time to try to get ahead of the redear spawn and have a few on hand for it. I mean they do call them “Shellcrackers”, right?
I just tied some black dubbing on a hook, covered it in epoxy and shaped it using gravity into a snail shape and then I used a black Sharpie to color it. Fresh epoxy will take a marker real well and its something we do when making spoon flies if we want color.
Well the first snail fly was lost on a snag almost immediately and I had to wait a day to make another one. The next day I used an indicator to keep it just off the bottom. After a few casts I made a cast and when the indicator hit the water it just kept on going under and I caught this nice catfish below. Unfortunately I lost the fly on a snag a few casts later, but that one fish along with my past experience is enough for me to think I’m on to something. The fish had a bulging belly and when I squeezed him he made that familiar sound of cornflakes being crushed. I am going to experiment some more, make some that are weedless and I happen to know of a lake with a good population of redears to try them out on during the March spawn.