Big Bend Coastal Angler Magazine:
Article by Gary Droze
April is just the right month for footbound fisherfolk to pursue the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge variant of the Gulf Coast inshore slam. This version includes the traditional species of redfish and spotted seatrout, but subs out the third member – flounder – for largemouth bass. Why the tradeoff?
The answer is obvious to hiking anglers who explore the waters on either side of the refuge’s Deep Creek Levee. This three-mile berm, which originates off Lighthouse Road about midway between the park’s headquarters building and the boat ramp, offers access to saltwater action along on its south banks, and freshwater opportunities on the north banks. While you might experience a springtime hookup with a summer flounder on the salty side – a rarity that will surprise both you and the flattie in equal measure – the odds are much better for tangling with hungry bucketmouth bass on the other side of the levee. These bass will have completed their spring spawn chores, so their attention will toggle from parenting to pigging out.
All the freshwater pools in the SMNWR hold bass, but the best chances for a “Refuge Slam” will fall to those who ply the lily pads of Stoney Bayou Pool #2, which is adjacent to a stretch of salty water that invites reds and trout on incoming tides.
Can refuge bass be caught on the same offerings used to entice saltwater predators? Yes, indeedy. A noisy topwater – I like Chug Bugs – will draw attention on both sides, especially under conditions of low light, with a hint of chop on the water. Too, a gold spoon can be just as attractive to bass as redfish, when neither are feeding on top. But the surest way to get that April refuge slam is to freeline small finger mullet. No self-respecting trout, red, or bass will turn down that tidbit!
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