Capt. Nick Poe said the water in Big Lake had finally just gotten really pretty earlier this week — right before Wednesday’s deluge arrived.
Poe, with Big Lake Guide Service, said he limited out on both May fishing trips he’s had so far this month, and is confident this week’s heavy rain won’t have a lasting effect on the estuary.
“The good thing about is that anytime we’ve gotten a bunch of rain like this, we’ve gotten a front shortly after so it pushes all the freshwater out a lot quicker,” he said. “So the fronts are actually helping us.”
Last week’s front in particular finally helped push a lot of freshwater out and dropped water levels, so he thinks the recovery from Wednesday’s rain event shouldn’t take that long.
“That will help us rebound faster,” he said. “The lake should clean up pretty quick.”
Trout-wise, Poe said he’s been particularly impressed with the size of the fish so far this spring.
“A lot of the chunky 3-, 4- and 5-pound fish we’ve been catching have had eggs, so I feel like we’re right where we need to be as far as that goes,” Poe said. “It seems like this year we still have some small fish, but the keeper fish that we are catching are bigger than the last few years.”
Fish are still relatively spread out on the lake, he said.
“Even with the freshwater, there’s a lot of fish on the north end of the estuary. There’s a few fish north of the Intracoastal (Waterway) but normally this time of year they all head south due to the salinity,” he said. “West Cove has been real good to us, Joe’s Cove has been real good to us and so has Long Point.
“There’s a lot of birds picking down on the south end of the lake. Some schools you hit are not so great with a lot of little fish in them. But if you find the right bunch, it’s what you want — some 16- and 18-inch fish.”
For the most part, Poe said his clients have been slow-rolling MirrOlure Lil Johns on ⅛-ounce jigheads on the bottom over oyster reefs in 6 feet of water or less. Purple demon has been the go-to color for dirtier water, while chartreuse ice and opening night are working in cleaner water.
“It all depends on the fish, but it seems like lately you’re pretty much dragging it. You don’t want to be dredging,” he said. “By dragging it, I mean none of this big high twitching and all that stuff like you normally would in the summertime when the water is pretty and you’re trying to get a reaction out of them.
“I’m talking little short twitches right off the bottom.”
And in cas you're wondering, yes — that means lots of snags.
"I'm burning through lead heads as fast as they can make them," Poe said with a laugh. "I am getting really good at tying knots."
If you come across a pocket of clean water, Poe said just about anything you try has a good shot of working, including suspending baits.
“If you find pretty water — and by pretty I mean if I can see my trolling motor — you can catch them just about any way you want. My first cast of the morning on Tuesday I caught a 5-pounder on topwater,” he said. “But if you’re fishing in the dirty stuff, that plastic on the bottom has been the ticket.”