You want to know what really gets under Capt. Billy Walbaum’s skin? Excessive noise — particularly while he’s fishing nearshore rigs for trout and reds.
“A lot of people pull up to a rig and it’s making a lot of noise, but when the trout and other fish hit the rig, it was already making noise,” Walbaum said. “But when you pull up with a boat and it starts going splash, splash, splash — that’s a deterrent.
“It shuts them down — boom.”
Walbaum said the importance of a stealthy approach and silent presence cannot be overstated. It seems obvious enough, but as a full-time Delta guide he regularly observes behavior that leads him to believe anglers are either unaware or unconcerned with their proximity to the fish.
“I see people pull up to rigs without trolling motors; they use their outboards,” Walbaum said. “You’re in 15 to 20 feet of water, and they’re using an outboard and then putting a rig hook on the structure like they’re fishing amberjack in deep water, that does not work.
“You’re very shallow, and trout are very spooky. You need to come as slowly and quietly as possible. You don’t want your boat bouncing, you don’t want your motor running — the quieter the better.”
Etiquette says don’t cast over another angler’s line, don’t run between another boat and the structure he’s fishing and, for goodness sake, kill that big engine.
“So many people will come into a rig with their motor running and kill the bite,” Walbaum said. “If another boat is fishing a rig and you want to go fish that rig but you don’t have a trolling motor, don’t go to that rig.
“You’re going to ruin it for the anglers who are already there.”