Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on fishing the Hopedale marsh with charter captain Charlie Thomason.
About 25 years ago, Charlie Thomason’s name kept popping up in weekly fishing reports, and after seeing, and hearing, him for the first time at a seminar, Dizzy Dean’s name came to mind.
OK, so most of you 55-and-younger folks who pay attention to catching fish in the Hopedale-Delacroix area have heard of Thomason, but have no idea about ol’ Diz.
Google that name and you’ll find out he was one heckuva pitcher during The Great Depression, but for baby boomers, Dean is remembered for his down-home wit and wisdom he shared many Saturday afternoons on the Major League Game of the Week with his broadcast partner Pee Wee Reese.
OK, what gives? Thomason and Dean?
It comes after seeing Thomason the first time and hearing tones of braggadicio in his seminar.
After 25 years and coming to find out that seeing, and hearing, is believing, that’s where Dean’s famous line, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it,” fits into this story.
Charlie Thomason catches fish, and his ability, and that of his fellow charter skippers, to catch fish turns his Bayou Charters’ customers into believers. The accommodations at his Silver Side Lodge push this Hopedale marsh experience well beyond what happens in his Triton bay boat.
Take early last week, a Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning with nearly two weeks of hard east winds had pushed water in the marshes well below what anyone would consider prime conditions.
Charter captain Greg Boudreaux put fishermen on a limit of redfish, a couple of straggler speckled trout and a flounder in the matter of a couple of late-afternoon hours.
“I love to catch ’em on topwaters at this time of year, but we’re going to have to work for them,” Boudreaux said. “The high water has pushed the (red) fish back into the coves, and it’s pretty shallow back there.”
Following a credo long practiced by Thomason, Boudreaux cuts the big outboard long before he moves into what he believes is prime fishing territory, then sparingly uses his trolling motor to slip into casting distance.
“Too much noise scares fish. Charlie believes that, and I believe that,” Boudreaux said. “We’re in shallow water and too much commotion will push the fish out.”
Almost immediately an 18-inch redfish blasted a heavy-wire spinnerbait rigged with a Soft Shad, MirrOlure’s soft-plastic bait with a vibrating chartreuse tail.
Later that day, back at the Silver Side dock, Thomason said every soft-plastic lure has to have a chartreuse-colored tail to be effective in the Hopedale-area marsh. And he explained that he likes the vibrating tails on a spinnerbait “... because of the action it has in the water on a spinnerbait,” but said MirrOlure’s new Lil John, a straight-tail soft plastic, is effective under a cork or on a jighead.
The Lil John caught fish, too, both Monday afternoon with Boudreaux and Tuesday morning fishing with Thomason.
A limit of redfish, many more trout than the day before, and another flounder came on a mixture of hard- and soft-plastic and the new soft-sided MirrOdine — six styles of MirrOlure baits, mostly because that’s the lure brand Thomason uses in all his boats.
Thomason said the reason so many different styles worked is the amount of forage in the marshes in the early fall.
“Look around, you see pogeys and other baitfish, and we have lots of shrimp in the marsh right,” Thomason said. “That means you pick the bait you have the most confidence in and throw it.”
That’s just the start of his lesson, a teaching practice that’s made Thomason a favorite for his charters.
He reinforced Boudreaux’s statement about being quiet near a fishing spot, even if it’s in open water — oyster beds in open bays hold redfish and speckled trout and require the same silent approach so as not to move off those hard-bottomed spots — and Thomason added a note about using anchor, “Ease it down, and make it real easy.”
Both Thomason and Boudreaux have the experience to be able to make exceedingly long cast, and both use braided line on their baitcast and spinning reels with what looked like 30-pound fluorocarbon leader tied with a uniknot to the braid.
Thomason has another unique piece of advice a speed-up, slow-down pattern designed to maximize your time on the water and put fish in the boat.
“When fishing for trophy trout, use the 10-cast rule: If you haven’t caught a sizable fish by then in a prime location, move to the next spot, maybe not far away — but move. When fishing regular (smaller) trout, use the five-cast rule,” he said. “I move a ton. I’m not going to hang out in a spot and wait for the fish to turn up.”
The slow down: “Don’t overwork either artificial or live baits. Be less aggressive and more methodical,” he said.
Next Sunday: Differences between Hopedale and Delacroix.