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Got Game? by Mike McBride

Moderator: Crank-B8

Got Game? by Mike McBride

Postby cnull » Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:42 pm

I was reading some older articles on some of our pro staff's websites. I found this one written by Capt Mike McBride a couple of years ago...I think you might get something out of it today. Enjoy reading and join us wishing Capt Mike "McTrout" a speedy recovery.

Got Game? by Mike McBride
As small trout continued to clear the gunnels, J.D. Whitley finally broke the silence with another one of his reality checking one-liners. "Ya just gotta wonder what a man gets out of all of this" he quipped, adding a salt seasoned grin for effect. I knew what he meant. After guiding for almost two decades, drifting for numbers of little fish on tails just wasn't enough "game" for him. Me neither. In the final analysis, it's simply not the meat that matters in fishing. It can’t be. Much more so, it’s the matter of the meat, especially when fishing with artificial lures. The real "meat" of the matter here involves the entire game itself and not just what we can measure with little baggies. It's a complex yet beautifully simplistic passion, and if we appreciate the challenge of all of it, we've got what it takes to fully enjoy time well spent. How about you...ya got game?

So what is the "game"? To play it ya gotta have it, and that takes confidence, drive, patience, tenacity, and even some athletic exertion. It’s the total mission of discovery, stalk and then the final capture. Each morning as you idle out of the harbor, the motivation comes from one simple question; “what will the game be for today?” It changes every day, and in this writer’s opinion, finding the answer is as rewarding as it gets, especially if charged with guiding other anglers to success.

It would be hard to count all of the different opportunities we have to catch fish, but each has it’s own time and place. Let’s pick one of many summer games in the lower Laguna Madre and see if it sounds like fun. Walk with me for a moment and see if you can see what I see. You want a game that will give you game? When conditions are right, it’s sight casting, the clear water teacher.

The wind has kicked a little during the night and has blown you a hunch. The question for the morning is whether the breeze has pushed both water & life onto windward sand. A drive-by answers YES, everything’s there; mullet, sheepshead, flounder, both southern and cownosed rays, needlenose gar, a few ballyhoo… We pull into the flat to enjoy the morning. So do the fish and once again we’ve chosen well. There they are…little gangs of head banging redfish cruising for a fight. You see their wakes in the distance and a lone black tail serves as a beckoning trout flag. You know it’s on and the game intensifies. What sorts of trickery will it take today? It’s a clear your head time. (I love you brother, but let’s shut-up and fish.) Four other men appear against the orange horizon…moving like statues. They’re playing the game too and you check each other’s progress.

This is not about speed. None of it is. It’s about walking slowly or even standing perfectly still, looking for obscure moving targets against naked, shin deep sand. The stalk is serious when the bait in all directions starts moving away from you no matter how quietly you slip through. Many people can stomp through this arena and will never see anything at all. It qualifies as aqueous hunting and we learn a tremendous amount about fish behavior when we can clearly see them in action. For one thing, those bumps & pecks we feel in ore opaque water mean nothing as far as size goes. Watching large fish swim up, inhale and spit is amazing, and sometimes you feel nothing at all. How do they do that and not get hooked?

More ghostly shadows appear up ahead. Are they horse mullet? We’re often not looking for fish but the shadows they make on the bottom. Egads, it’s a little group of marauding trout! You watch as they do what they do, perhaps not even casting as you marvel at their antics. We don’t need to get silly here. A lowly piece of plastic or small piece of shiny metal will work just fine, something we can cast well and is non-threatening. Color? Heck they can see a naked jig head. I know they can because I caught a nice red throwing one trying to un-do some line twist.

Single reds become more visibly numerous, but even textbook casts either spook them or go totally ignored. Be patient. It may be quite some time before conditions change to be able to catch them, but you know they will. If we do this right the time clock doesn’t exist. The sun climbs and you start to see fish following your lure from a distance that probably have been all morning. It’s time to be a fisherman. Make the lure live. Finally something happens and the first fish comes to hand. Ah yes, a little smell on my lure now. Now I’m as “baited” as I’ll ever be.

The ones swimming together prove more responsive targets because the competition between themselves makes them aggressive. You were able to watch the entire take, fight, and submission, with 3 or 4 more fishing following the whole time either being curious or trying to take the lure out of he captured fishes mouth. The scenario begins to repeat itself with more regularity and you become more choosey on which ones to cast too. It’s awesome, especially watching groups of decent trout rush to investigate for several feet before one finally falls for the trick. I could go on and on describing all of the adrenaline laden scenes we see up high in the sand, especially those loner logs of trout that are nearly uncatchable. Like anything else, it’s what we can’t have that we want most. Work hard enough, however, and we can have some of those too.

Sure, there are plenty of ways to put food on the table. You know what I mean. We can get meat almost anywhere, but where can we get all of this? Besides the experience itself, what we learn in clear water makes our game better everywhere else we go, and it is a game indeed. So exactly what does a man get out of all of this? If ya got game, ya get plenty. If you don’t, you need to get it. Mansfield is about as good as it gets, so let’s shut-up and fish. See you here, and we’ll leave the light on for ya. ~McBride
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