Drifting baits can land big fish
The easy way to catch big fish in nearshore water off Texas is to drift dead baits, such as menhaden, ribbonfish or mullet, skewered onto large circle hooks. Throw in a chum slick, and bites nearly are guaranteed.
Drifting natural baits is a grand strategy as long as you don't care what eats them. Most often, that "what" will be a shark, maybe 20 pounds and maybe 200 pounds (and close to the beach, although local chambers of commerce would rather not talk about that). All other species, with modest seasonal variation, finish tied for second until the fall redfish run.
Some skippers prefer lures, such as MirrOlure's 72- and 85-series plugs, Coast Hawks or 1-ounce spoons with flashy skirts. Gulf pro James Plaag, one of the best nearshore captains in Texas and winner of Louisiana tarpon tournaments, said he hasn't thrown "bait" in three years.
For real thrills, keep one rod rigged with a large topwater plug. MirrOlure's Top Dog or Heddon's Super Spook push enough water to turn broad shoulders, and each is light enough to be managed on medium-duty casting gear.
If it's bites you want, drag dead bait in a chum slick. For nearshore kicks, dance a topwater plug among those big-eyed sharpshooters.
-- DOUG PIKE
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