“People think I’m joking when I say I smell the redfish,” Capt. Patric Garmeson of Ugly Fishing said with a smile as he leaned back against the bull redfish on the end of his line.
Moments earlier, the veteran charter caption had announced “smelling them” and turned his head to look upwind. Something obviously looked good because he immediately turned the boat with his trolling motor, moved in the direction he had looked and made long cast with a swimbait. The hook-up was almost immediate!
Garmeson doesn’t literally smell redfish. However, he can smell clues that predator fish are feeding, so when Garmeson catches a whiff of that scent, he knows to seek its source.
Garmeson guides anglers year round, fishing all of Mobile Bay, waters upriver from the main bay and the Gulf of Mexico along the Alabama coast. He targets several inshore fishing species, among them redfish, speckled trout, flounder, sheepshead, jack crevalle and Spanish mackerel. Because of the vast area he covers and the variety of species and approaches – and because of ever-changing conditions – he cannot simply return to proven hotspots day after day and do the same things. Consistent saltwater fishing success depends on finding fish daily.
Fortunately, as a lifelong Mobile Bay angler and long-time charter captain, Garmeson excels at finding fish. He begins with a deep understanding of seasonal movements and behavior and likely effects of the day’s tides and wind forecast. That, along with recent history, typically frames a working plan. The magic comes on the water, though, from staying alert using his senses and compiling clues to find actively feeding fish.
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