Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41 No 3 - Page 34

STOP-THE- BOAT-TROUT W hen I first heard the term “stop- the-boat-trout”, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what it meant. But I resolved to find out! I’m not new to fall and winter brackish water trolling by any means but always open to trying something different; for example, using 1/ 0 popping bugs to catch spotted seatrout. The “bass bugs” were rigged on stout mono 18-20 inches behind one-half to three-quarter ounce bell sinkers, depending on water depth and current. Preferred hues of the poppers were almost always chartreuse, a color that worked extremely well. The downside of using this innovative set-up was the labor it required. Short stiff rods were needed and anglers were constantly keeping those bugs hopping along the bottom - like skipping shrimp by dropping their rod tips back and then bringing them sharply forward again. If you’re catching keeper specks now and then, you don’t mind, but an hour or two without action and your wrists and forearms might begin cramping - and I speak from experience! Of course, I jumped on the bandwagon with my cronies and enjoyed some good catches but after awhile gave it up as too much work. Most trollers tend to use lures with “built-in action”, meaning they can hold their rods or place them in holders. It may be the lazy way to fish but when multiple rods are set - three or four, for instance, you’ll score more often. Before completely abandoning the “new fad”, I happily discovered that although the idea behind the bugs was to fool speckled trout, no one told the flounder who absolutely loved them. Each October and November for a couple of years, my wife and I literally wore out the flatties in 34 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N Bayou Cumbest, to the east of Pascagoula. We caught plump flounder on about a three- to-one ratio over specks and had permanent smiles on our faces dreaming about gourmet dinners of fried, broiled, and stuffed flounder. But I digress... Ted Sizemore - not the professional baseball player - cornered me one Friday afternoon at his Ocean Springs small engine repair shop and asked, “Jim, I know you enjoy wintertime trolling but have you ever caught a bonafide “stop-the-boat-trout”? “No, I haven’t”, I admitted with my interest going into overdrive, “But I’d sure like to!” “Good”, he said, “Meet me right here at 5:30 tomorrow morning and be sure to dress warmly because it’s supposed to be close to freezing after the front passes and the rain ends.” We launched Ted’s 14 foot jonboat at the Ocean Springs Small Craft Harbor and made the short but bumpy run to Davis Bayou, a stream noted for sizable specks. The icy north wind cut through our layered clothing like 10,000 needles and I was relieved when we entered the smooth bayou and cut our speed. Ted was right about the weather, except it wasn’t “close to freezing”, it was freezing! But what can you expect in late December? I was a bit surprised, however, as we made our way steadily upstream and hadn’t yet stopped to put lines out. “Just how far up are we going, Ted?”, I asked with a puzzled look.,. “Way up”, he replied, “In fact, past the two-lane bridge on old Highway 90.” “But that’s getting into bass water isn’t it”, I stammered... “Not always”, he answered, laughing. “Go ahead and unlimber your rod now and tie on a shallow running MirrOlure because we’ll soon be fishing.” As we crept slowly under the tiny bridge, threading our way between sawed off pilings from an earlier structure, I was astonished to see 3-6 inch icicles - and they didn’t appear to be melting! My next surprise was spotting a decrepit hogwire fence on the left bank that due to severe erosion over the years now extended several feet into the leaf-stained but crystal clear water. “Take special note of that crazy looking fence, my friend”, Ted advised, because it’s a magnet for baitfish, shrimp and crabs and may hold some real lunkers...” “Like pot-bellied bass”, I couldn’t resist saying. After my ill-timed remark, Ted idled past the stupid-looking fence in stony silence for about 75 yards before swinging the boat around and we put our lines out, trembling as much from excitement as the frigid weather. “Better get a good grip on your rod, Pal”, Ted cautioned, realizing our lures were approaching ground zero. Too close, apparently. “Drat!, Ted, I’ve snagged that dad- blamed fence!” “No you haven’t”, he snapped, “Look aft!” Suddenly my line began zig-zagging wildly as a big yellowmouth surfaced, roiling the water with powerful headshakes as it tried to free the lure lodged crosswise in its gaping maw. “Notice anything?”, Ted a Y ܚ[[YH\H\\HY^B^H\\[[H]Y\Y[BY[Y]^HH[\وB\^[KHY[YY [YH[›[܈\\[۝[YK\]Y\YH[B'X\H^H\H\Y[x'KYY[ۚ\Y 8'X]\H[H\H\šX۸&][H[\\]\' UKPU UUx'BH][[\[]\Bܙ[\Y[[]\]Y[Y\\YHZY[XݙH]H[ۂY8&\][KY\ۙܘ][][ۜ˜[Y]x&\H[X\YH\[XYH\^HۜX[HH\B \^HX\K[Y8&\ܙ'X\Y\ۈHXY'H H[^B\K[Yx&]HZ[]\[8' ]KB]\'H[Kx&]H]\ܙ[^H\ۙKX\H[X[HX]]\B[YH[YH H[Y\[X]][[HBˈHHHˈ