If you’re one of those guys who sets your cork at a specific depth and doesn’t touch it again for the rest of the trip, you’re probably not going to catch a whole bunch of fish right now out of Hopedale.
Or at least, not the fish you want to catch. But you’ll still be able to spend the day flipping gafftops and hardheads off.
Capt. Charlie Thomason said depth-change is critical right now for anglers who want to load the box with redfish.
“It’s the difference between taking all day to limit — if you can limit at all — and limiting out in 30 minutes,” he said.
That’s because the reds are suspended right now, which Thomason admits makes no sense.
“There’s no grass; all the grass is gone, so the water’s dirty,” he said. “I would think that would make the fish eat on the bottom, but they’re not doing that at all. If you fish too deep, you get nothing but hardheads and crabs. If you fish too shallow, all you catch are small gafftops.
“You’ve got to be suspended about 4 to 6 inches off the bottom.”
The importance of hitting the right depth was crystalized for Thomason on a Wednesday trip out of his Hopedale dock.
“We pulled up, and I put one guy shallow and one guy deeper,” he said. “We went in there, and one guy kept catching gafftops and the other guy kept missing fish, so I knew it wasn’t redfish.
“So I took the guy who was deeper, and moved him up about 5 inches. I threw him out, and he caught one right away. I put both the corks at the same level, and we limited out in 10 casts.”
Thomason then called in one of the guides who works for him. He took the spot as Thomason pulled out.
“He called me on the radio, and said they couldn’t get a bite,” Thomason said. “I told him what depth to set his corks, and they all limited out in 15 minutes.”
Thomason likes the Versamaxx brand of corks because of the sound they make and, more importantly right now, because they allow anglers to easily adjust leader depth without re-tying.
The best action seems to be located in one general area, he said.
“Seven-Dollar Bay back into Lake Coquille is where we’re fishing,” he said. “That whole bank right there has a lot of redfish on it. Anything between the Spoil Canal and Lake Machias, Lake of Two Trees and Calabasse. That whole stretch. There’s just millions of fish in there.”
That same area is also holding speckled trout. On Tuesday’s trip, Thomason saw birds diving on shrimp. His clients threw under them, and caught 14 keeper specks.
“There are tons of white shrimp right now; they’re all over the marsh,” he said. “When you’re idling, they’re popping all over the place. All nice shrimp.”
Thomason said the water is anything but pretty in that area. He’s hoping that changes with Thursday’s wind switch to the southeast. If that happens, the trout fishing should take off.
“I’m very optimistic that this fall’s going to be extremely good,” he said. “I’ll think we’ll have a repeat of last fall with the trout.”