TIP: Off the Beaten Path
This Team TTF tips piece comes from pro-staffer Kurt Koliba. Kurt and his partner, Mike Shimek, are one of the most consistent redfish teams on the coast - a fact backed up by Team of the Year titles in two different circuits and a Texas Redfish Series Championship trophy. In this article, Kurt talks about one of the most important aspects of successful tournament fishing: finding areas "off the beaten path".
For me, not everyday on the water is about catching limits of fish. Some of my most productive fishing days didn’t produce any catches at all. What I’m getting at is the discovery of a hidden hot spot. There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding a new unpressured fishing spot. When fishing tournaments, I feel it’s vital to find an area that holds heavy fish and receives little pressure from other anglers.
The cold winter chill can uncover some hot fishing honey holes. Post-frontal low tides are one of most valuable tools when trying to locate new water. First of all, the obvious: the low water will expose reefs that you never knew existed. Mark these reefs on your GPS and fish them throughout the year.
When looking for that “magic pond” in the marsh, these same low-water conditions aid in developing a road map to access these ponds. Finding a quality backwater pond with minimal pressure is not an easy thing to do, or should I say get to. The best and safest way to learn how to navigate a slough or cut leading to a pond is to hop out of the boat and wade in. Usually the best ponds are the hardest to access. When on the wading exploration, keep mental notes of how you will navigate your boat around the shallow sand bars and the oyster gauntlet mazes. The low water saves so much time because many of these obstacles will be exposed. Always remember some type of mental tide gauge that will tell you when there’s enough water to enter the pond without ripping the gel coat off the bottom of the boat.
Another way to find a honey hole off the beaten path is to drag a chain behind the boat while idling around the bay. This is a great way to find a reef not listed on traditional maps. This might not be the most scientific way to locate a reef, but it’s very effective. The oyster boats have been doing this for years. Have your GPS ready and when the chain starts jumping, start marking your new spots. Once again, this is a great way to fish a spot that doesn’t get as much pressure as that community reef with fourteen boats stacked on it on tournament day.