Let It Be
Anglers spend a lot of time and energy trying to get their bait or lure into the strike zone. Then they spend more time trying to figure out the best retrieve from there. Often the best retrieve out of a strike zone is no retrieve
Whether you are a kayak angler drifting along a mangrove shoreline or a bass chaser from a kayak or shore, casting to pockets under overhanging branches takes practice and control. It’s always rewarding to cast your offering into the exact spot you targeted. Once you achieve this, pause to let the lure sit or sink in that special place. There may or may not be a hungry fish there but why take it away from them too soon?
Unless you manage to cast it on their head without spooking them, they may have to cruise over to the commotion your lure made at splash down. What a shame it would be if a big, slow, heavy gamefish of your choice made the trip to see what’s for dinner and your lure was already gone. The time, energy and practice required to get to this moment can be wasted if you get in a hurry.
Sure, there are species like mackerel and bluefish that only react to fast moving shiny stuff, but they aren’t the ambush feeders found along shorelines. Redfish and snook will claim an area of shoreline and either patrol it regularly or stage in their favorite spot and wait for something to happen. A splash nearby will usually get their attention but one on top of their head may spook them. So even if you miss your target spot, let it be for a moment and see what happens. Even after a lure has hit bottom, a curious redfish will pick it up if it just lays there.
In the mangroves, we like to use lures that work without much retrieve action. The classic DOA shrimp or a crab imitation works well in this situation. Kayak anglers working a mangrove shoreline put in a lot of time and effort to get in position to make the perfect cast under the branches by a deep pocket. Be sure and let the lure settle before beginning your retrieve out of this magic spot. Again, it may take a while for a nearby fish to mosey over to see the new arrival. Even if you can see your target fish, try to get the lure close but not on it to lower the chance of spooking your quarry.
Expanding this concept to docks and sand holes is pretty straight forward. Gamefish know that most prey in the water column will head for the safety of the bottom and the grasses or debris that will conceal them there. This principle is the idea behind a popping cork over a live shrimp, DOA shrimp or plastic jig used on the flats. The noise attracts their attention and the slow drop afterwards gets
When fly fishing in freshwater, bass and bluegill will often study bait or a lure for a while before deciding to eat...or not. Bluegill especially noted for this slow approach, often hang below a foam spider or popping bug for a full minute before striking. It might be they are just lazy and confirming it is really dead, so it won’t be hard to catch. The best plan is to let it lie still for at least 15-20 seconds. If there are no takers, give it the tiniest twitch, just enough to wiggle the legs and wait some more. In a drifting kayak, it is important to cast far enough ahead of your drift to allow a long wait before drifting past a cast.
So, the next time you get lucky and land a cast exactly where you wanted it to go, don’t be too quick to begin your retrieve. Whether you’re slinging a slow sinking lure, a top water lure, a popping bug or a foam spider, be patient. Enjoy the moment while your hungry fish sizes up the offering. Hey, it’s summer and the living is easy. Relax and wait them out. Don’t work so hard, let them come
Kimball and Les Beery, authors of Angler’s Guide to Shore and KAYAK Fishing Southwest Florida, contribute these excerpts from both Waterproof books to promote the excellent fishing available in the Englewood area. They are available locally at Old Florida Gallery on West Dearborn, and for download at www.anglerpocketguides.com & www.amazon.com.