You don’t have to read my blogs or articles long before you see me urge, preach, lecture and even implore anglers to focus on locating baitfish on any fishing trip. If there is a most important sign, the presence of some form of baitfish is likely it. You can have bad water, worse wind and a sewer of a tide and still catch fish occasionally if there is a lot of bait. It’s that important.
Recently, I was reminded that locating bait sometimes takes more focus than just….well….locating bait. I was recently fishing the Galveston beachfront on a pristine flat-surf morning. It was a weekend, so I got out early to try to get a bit of the early bite before the horde arrived. I immediately found an active line of mullet in the first gut. It was a full moon period, and I particularly like finding bait stacked against the beach on those morning. Perfect set-up.
I worked through the gut with a Super Spook (which is tremendous choice in those conditions – Read my gear blog on this indispensable lure) and found absolutely nothing eating. Not a swirl, blow-up or anything that would inspire me other than the near-constant vaulting of mullet. As the sun began to approach clearing the horizon, I happened to catch a flash of running baitfish in the second gut. As I locked in on it, I could see an occasional launch of a small mullet here-and-there keeping a extremely tight profile to the water’s surface. Clearly, they were running. I imagine you know the punchline here. First cast into the previously ignored gut produced a swirl, next a strike and the story gets predictable at that point.
The point that struck me was that even locating bait is never enough. I cannot properly describe and likely am not even conscious of the mantra of “look for bait” that constantly cycles through my subconscious. I have trained myself to the point of absurdity, but yet, I missed seeing the bait that was needed to actually catch fish. I was so locked in on grinding away at the first bait line that I never looked out. I even cajoled myself to not get distracted and wander out deeper when I knew that the bait was solid in that first gut. It was a great reminder in all aspects of fishing (and actually all aspects of any decision process in business or in personal life)…look and look again.