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Stokes: Fishing, like writing, can be explosive at times

Putting this week's column together reminded me of the time I made a stink bait concoction for catfish.

I was about 10 years old at the time and thought if I came up with a better bait I might get a chance to fish with my Uncle Emory.

I mixed a batch of dough, added food coloring, chicken, beef livers and blue cheese. I then placed the mix in one of those early veg-a-matic appliances, chopped things up real fine and added a bit of water and baking soda.

The blend was placed in a sealed jar and left under an old galvanized wash tub outside to ferment. The next day the yard smelled like a skunk had been drug through the outhouse and left as road kill in a puddle of tainted wash water.

I checked my mixture and found the wash tub was missing. It was a good 5 feet away with a large dent in the side. The lid had blown off the jar and its contents were sprayed over the yard and most of my Aunt's fresh washed sheets hanging on the clothes line.

With my allowance pretty much shot for the rest of the summer, I spent a good deal of time around the house doing chores and keeping a much lower profile.

Offshore Trends

Active presently are amberjack, wahoo, dolphin, Spanish mackerel and cobia.

The channels and sounds having active bottom structure are producing nicely. Floating grass is a sign of fishing activity and wrecks and reefs are holding a variety of active bottom feeders which are taking fresh cut squid, menhaden and mullet.

Cobia are active at channel markers, along the outer edges of structures and over deep water ledges.

Inshore Happenings

Spot tail bass are tightly schooled just off the flats in deeper waters waiting for a favorable tide to dictate movement. Fishing the last hours of the outgoing tide has always been productive but recently both tides at the hour mark prior to and after have shown excellent opportunities. During this period game fish travel the breaks and ditch lines from creek to deep water.

At each stage of the tide game fish spread along these reaches and the pattern signals other fish whenever a food source has been located. Spot tail have an excellent sense of smell and their attraction to natural baits is almost a certainty. Fresh cut baits of shrimp and mullet are excellent choices. However, don't overlook the use of artificials in your pursuit.

Often bass will abandon burrowing in the mud and look toward the surface. When this happens nothing in your arsenal will dictate success more than a top water plug. Light colors resemble baitfish, when natural baits are not producing lighter color artificials take up the slack, especially in white.

Heddon's 1/2 oz. Torpedo, weed less white feather gold spoons, and Zara Spooks are among my favorites.

These same methods can be employed for trout and other game fish as well. My lure choices are 1/2 oz. Sea Shads-Electric Chicken, 1/4 and 1/2 oz. Chartreuse Mirro-lures and white 1/2 to 1 oz. grubs.

There will be times combination colors will work also. A few productive combinations are pink/white, pink/ green, chartreuse/pink or lime/white.

Sheepshead, flounder and whiting finish this weeks active list.

With plenty of baitfish most species are eager to take the hook and aren't selective in their choices. Fresh is the key for natural bait but if you choose artificials it is better to stay with lighter lures in both weight and color.