Saturday, June 2, 2012

Crowding Out the Fish

Where can you fish in a crowd?

The weather was superb except for the wind. Although protected waters were fine, getting offshore was a challenge with a 15-knot northeast breeze and a heavy ground swell underneath. It was the weekend – the first really nice, warm weekend of the year, and it seemed that every boater in the city was on the water.
I launched a little late in order to avoid the early rush at the ramp. That effort paid off, as I was able to get the boat in the water with no waiting and no crowd. I did have to park some distance away, but it was worth it.
As I idled up Sister’s Creek on an incoming tide I noticed that even the offshore boats were running inshore. I reached my first stopping place – one that is almost guaranteed to provide me one redfish – and there was not one, but three boats sitting back in the creek and at the creek mouth. I moved on.
The second stop was almost as bad. There are only a few ledges and drops that hold fish on an incoming tide. I thought I had this next place all to myself, but when I rounded the bend, there sat another angler in exactly the spot I wanted to be. He was catching trout and bluefish as fast as he could get a bait in the water. I idled around him and into the mouth of a small creek just behind him. I was going back to another of my “secret” holes when I noticed that yet another boat was sitting right where that hole was.
The story was the same all day long. How could so many people know all of my fishing spots? Of course it was only after I calmed down when I got home that I recollected how I found most of these holes – I saw someone else fishing them and made notes!
Trying to get free from all the other anglers, water skiers, jet skiers, pleasure boats and yachts that were churning up the Intracoastal Waterway, I headed back into some creeks that I had not only never fished, but also had never seen anyone else fish.
The spring flood tides had the water higher than normal on this tide, so I was able to get to places that were ordinarily inaccessible. It seems the fish had the same idea. And wouldn’t you think that they had the right idea? Boats were churning the water. The banks of the ICW were being sloshed to a muddy froth. There was no peace!

I was finally alone and able to actually try to catch some fish. I did manage an oversize redfish, which I released. And when I found a bend in this creek that had a deeper hole, I found the trout and bluefish. They were small – under the legal size limit – but they were plentiful.
They were so plentiful, in fact that I broke out my fly rod. It was a nine weight, and it was really heavy for these fish. I was originally going to look for some feeding redfish way up on the flats, so this was the only fly rod I brought. But, the small Deceiver fly was deadly on these fish, and I managed to catch as many as I wanted, even though I was way over powered. I wished then that I had put the four or five weight in the boat as well.
Other boaters I ran into back at the ramp had only a so-so day. “Too many boats”, was a phrase I heard over and over. But my day had turned out to be fairly good – not what I had planned, but acceptable as fishing days go.
I was able to put three more small creeks on my chart, creeks that I can go to when the boat traffic has done me in. And it appears I will have company in those creeks. It appears the fish will be headed there as well to get away from the crowds!
Back when I used to fish out of Miami on a weekend day, Biscayne Bay looked like – and still does – a boater’s parade. Everywhere you turn there were boats. Actually the only time I really fished Biscayne Bay was in the winter when the Spanish mackerel were running inside of Stiltsville.
But I learned over time, that if I could get into some places where others either could not or would not venture, I could usually find some fish. The grass beds off of Mercy Hospital, protected by a flat, usually held some trout. The mangroves along the shore could be counted on for a snook or two and I actually found some holes that held mangrove snapper. So, right in sight of the Miami skyline, right under the noses of a lot of boaters, I was able to catch fish. All I had to do was get away from the crowds.
Take this experience with you next time you fish a crowded area. It’s a method that will work anywhere. When other boaters on the water crowd you out, they crowd the fish out as well. Head away from the crowds and you will find some fish!

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