September, 2023 – Two Evenings of Wading
The best time of the wading year is upon us. From now till mid December, or even later, tides and weather are near perfect. The reds will be actively feeding to fatten up before moving into and with their open water schools for the winter months.
This reports covers two evening and about 3 hours of adequate water time for reds to be present. I encountered 3 reds in a small area that is the easiest and most high trafficked area of this tidal marsh. While not great, having a red an hour essentially swim by me in a marsh is generally a good evening of wading.
September 11th and 12 gave us two evenings of excellent tides at and just after sundown, I waded both.
September 11th the tide, 7.8ft, was high at 7:45pm, sunset was at 7:45pm. Following a series of thunder storms, the winds were light enough that the gnats were a problem. I arrived and posted up in one place between the terminus of two tidal creeks about 90 minutes before the high tide. Bait fish and grass shrimp were quite active but by 7:15 I had seen no reds. I waded 200 yards along a tall grass line, saw plenty of bait but no reds so I reversed and waded back to my original posting location, still nothing but bait. I then ventured to the opposite side of one of the feeder creeks and spotted a tailer-it turned out to be a sheaphead.
By 7:45 darkness was encroaching and was amplified by gathering storm clouds. As I made my way out of the marsh I glimpsed a red’s tail, he was on the move. I led him, made the cast and whacked him in the head.
NOTES: Two items: I saw less than a half dozen fiddler crabs on all of my walk to the fishing grounds, they were non-existent. On my way out at darkness, I saw maybe a dozen crabs. Interestingly, laughing gulls were flocked up in the marsh and were actively flying over the marsh waters trying to catch bait fish, something I’ve never seen before. These birds are mostly chum eaters, not live bait catchers.
September 12th the tide, 8.0 ft, was high at 8:30pm, about 30 minutes past darkness but would provide adequate water levels for reds to enter the marsh from about 7:15pm till dark. I arrived at the same location as the previous night at 7:00pm and posted up. Winds were 5-10 out of the SE but of no real issue. By 7:40, again, plenty of bait action but no reds. As I began to move in the direction of wading the tall grass line from the night before, a red tail pops up, disappears and pops up again. I made a cast and he disappears with no signs of having been spooked. A minute later he pops up 20 feet away. I move into position and make a cast, he disappears again. Two minutes later he pops up again some 40 feet away. Again, I move to position, make the cast and he disappears again never to be seen again. This fish showed no signs of being spooked but was searching for forage and finding none. As I moved down the tall grass line another red pops up within cast distance. I made the cast and he disappears and essentially repeats the first reds forage habits till finally disappearing totally. Neither of these fish were acting like Tailer or grazers they seemed to be searching in a some what frantic manner for forage. Water levels for both were about knee deep. Ten minutes of wading later with no reds spotted I began the 300 yard wade out of the marsh before total darkness.
Only one other fisherman was seen.
NOTES: Again, I saw no fiddler crabs on the way into the marsh or in the marsh nor any other types of crabs. On my way out I saw less than a half dozen crabs and few signs of mud/soil being pushed up from crab burrows. Something is going on with the crabs. The gulls were again present but in fewer numbers and not working the marsh for food. All in all, both evenings were about as good a wading/fishing conditions as one can ask for.
— John Mathews