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Opportunities in Contrast by Mike McBride

Moderator: Crank-B8

Opportunities in Contrast by Mike McBride

Postby cnull » Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:39 pm

The bright sand pocket screamed for attention. Its smooth texture lay in sharp contrast against the shag-nasty grass surrounding it. A cast was met with a swirling thump, a throbbing line, and of course a great big plastic eating smile. It's exactly what we came for, what we hope for, and the entire scene radiates an intriguing contrast of it's own. Moments like this are bright spots in our life and the mere act of fishing is in stark contrast against the routines of a more responsible world. While a break in our normal pattern can reward us with sanity, fish also know that contrasting breaks in their environment can reward them with a better chance at survival. Lets look at how the concept of keying on contrast can make our day better.

Game fish always seem to identify with something. That 'something' can be a lot of things and it doesn't always have to be big. By the word contrast, we mean distinct change, and anything different can offer both safe cover and opportunistic feeding areas for fish. That means opportunity for us and that is 'something' we can work with. Yes we all know about structure. We've talked about it a million times and I have personally flogged the subject to an inky death. However, a lot of us still seem to miss the smaller picture. We often only think about major changes such as reefs, guts, points and humps. Unfortunately, so does everybody else, and a lot of those highly visible structures are hard pounded and miserable to fish. Boat traffic these days seems to have just as much to do with where we can catch fish as anything else. Those smaller, unmapped areas away from prop zones can produce just a many fish on a given day as the more popular areas, and opportunity can show up just about anywhere. A few small examples of where finding more obscure opportunities in contrast are water color variations, surface texture changes, and small uncharted bottom deviations.

Streaky water is one of the easiest opportunities to see. They don't have a Hot Spot number on them, they move, and nobody is going to beat you to them before sun-up. Whether they are isolated clear pockets or fingers of murkier streaks, the distinction creates a desirable area for both game fish and bait. Forget about the targeted magic GPS waypoint for a minute. Try stopping and catching a few fish while going to catch fish. Streaks, especially the dirty ones, are either caused by bait or moving water. We want both. Stop. Work the contrasting edges. Gain some sanity.

We've all noticed, well…maybe we haven't, areas on flats where the surface texture somehow looks a little different. Large areas of ripples, if you would, in an otherwise calmer situation can be caused by a lot of factors such as currents, bait, or even temperature changes. They don't necessarily hold more fish, but contrasting surface textures can provide cover, making fish less spooky and therefore often easier to catch. Moving over just a bit and working "feathered" water can make a huge difference in catch ratios. When setting up on drifts, any type of contrasting edge makes sense.

Of course, contrasting bottoms are always no-brainers of high potential. We'll never find most of them though unless we get out of the boat, yet another advantage for the wader. Besides small deviations in level, bottom texture can be very important for feeding opportunities. Sand against mud for example, where the adjacent hard pack becomes a dinner plate for food as it's delivered out of its muddy hiding place by current. Following underwater edges with your feet and keeping a lure in contact with it can pay high dividends.

Contrasting edges of opportunity are everywhere if we'll look although some are more visible than others. It's easy to see examples such as color variations of different grasses, isolated grass humps dotting the sand, grassy tips, cut V's, channel T's, water clarity changes, surface disturbances, and even prop scars, but other elements like temperature breaks and bottom compositions are often missed. Again, get in the water for best results. Whatever the "change" is, anything that contrasts with the surrounding area is always worth a good poke. The picture shown here was made possible by working the small stuff; a non-descript area with streaky water and a minor bottom change. It was hiding in plain sight without another boat piercing the moment. We can all do the same; we just gotta go do it.

Next time on the water, grab a small place for yourself by looking closer at the small picture. The big picture in all of this is why we go in the first place. Life itself is about contrast, and like fish, we tend to search for opportunities that are different to make a better day. An opportunity in serious contrast with the rest of the world is the Lower Laguna Madre. No finer place has the Texas Sun radiated on saltwashed knees. It's bright sand screams for attention, and I think I just may have to stay a while. We'll see ya there. ~McBride
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Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:14 pm

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