“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain,” Dolly Parton once said.
If Dolly is right, anglers along the Gulf Coast ought to be in for a month of rainbows. This summer has seen more rain and foul weather than any summer in decades according to several anglers I’ve talked with.
One coast fisherman who seems to find that pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow day in and day out is Capt. Ronnie Daniels of Fisher-Man Guide Service out of Long Beach.
Regardless of the prevailing conditions or the hand Mother Nature has dealt in the days before, Daniels can find fish.
One of the pots of gold he can depend on is one of the 69 near-shore reefs along the Gulf Coast. Click here for reef locations.
These reefs range from oyster shells to crushed limestone to concrete rubble. Regardless of the reef’s construction, Daniels applies a similar tactic for fishing success.
With trout, it’s always about current. Daniels takes into consideration wind direction and tidal movement to determine where to set up on a reef.
“Ideally I like to position the boat up wind so we can throw farther to the reef,” he said. “As for the tide, I prefer to start down current behind the reef on the edges and throw to the edge.”
Don’t be discouraged the first time you fish a reef. With underwater reefs it may take a trip or two to figure out the lay of the land. A lot of near-shore reefs are marked by a piece of PVC pipe stuck in the bottom but that represents only a small part of some reefs and is not necessarily placed in the middle.
There is no better tool to learn bottom composition and to catch big trout than a Carolina Rig. The Carolina Rig will not only help you map out the reef it will also increase your chances of catching nice trout.
“I generally fish croakers with a Carolina Rig using a 1/2 or ¾-ounce egg weight,” Daniels explained. “Hook size is determined by the size of my croakers.
“Current and type of bottom determines how I hook the croaker. I prefer to hook them in the nose because I believe they look more natural being pulled forward because we all know fish don't swim backwards.
“Flat Boat Key, where there are a ton of shells, my clients lose a ton of bait if I hook the croaker in the nose. In this situation I hook in last 1/3 of the body.
“If I am throwing down current with a strong tide I really want them hooked in the nostril.”
Daniels said live shrimp can be fished the same as croakers or under a Boat Monkey popping cork using a 12 to 24-inch leader with a No. 6 or No. 8 treble hook.
“With live bait I will generally pull up and anchor then make small movements with the trolling motor until I find fish or decide to move on,” he said.
Daniels doesn’t hesitate to throw soft plastics when fishing reefs either. Once he has found fish, and the bite is on, he prefers a Bayou Chub by Egret Baits on a ¼-ounce Beer Belly jighead.
Daniels doesn’t control the thermostat in his office. He simply works in the conditions he’s dealt and catches fish.
“Yes, the weather is hot, but the fishing is hotter so get out there and enjoy it,” he said with a big smile on his face.