Follow the Birds

Here a several years ago, my brother Blaze and I decided to head to one of our favorite local spot in hopes to pick up a few trout. It was mid afternoon when we arrived to our destination and we were greeted with a warm, light southern wind accompanied with the Texas sun. We began throwing our lures and did not have much luck for the first 20 minutes or so. When we started to contemplate moving locations, the nearby Cormorants leaped off their pylon perch’s and began diving right in front of us. Every time they would dive down, they would appear back to the surface holding a croaker or shad in their mouth. As soon as their feeding frenzy started, Blaze and I started to quickly pull in a trout with every cast. 

The action was quick and only lasted a few minutes but we managed to pick up a several fish. As soon as we noticed the bite starting to slow down, the Cormorants returned back to their perch. We sat and fished for another 30 minutes with nothing to show until the same scene replayed itself; the Cormorants started diving again to feed and we began to catch more trout.

At a young age we learned that anglers can find schools of fish underneath working Gulls but that was as far as our knowledge was with locating fish. That day was when we realized that fish can be pinpointed by other birds besides Seagulls. Nearly every bird that lives in the marsh, lakes and near the sea have the same diet as the fish that live near them. They will take advantage of the baitfish that are being forced out of the water or onto the bank by hungry fish. A majority of time, this makes for an easy meal for birds and in turn, makes it easy to spot feeding fish for an angler.

Other than Seagulls and Cormorants, Egrets and Herons are always a great sign that fish are in a certain area. These shore birds will line up along the bank waiting for fish to force schools of bait within striking distance. If you ever are driving across the lake and see several Egrets lined up, stop and fish them for a little bit; they are at that specific spot for a reason.

One of the other birds that I like to look for are Ospreys, which is part of the Raptor family. A majority of their diet consist of larger mullet that they tend to find in shallower water. They can often be seen in the back ponds of the marsh but I like to find them scouring the flats in the main lake. The reason being, their food source is the same as larger trout and since you can’t see in the water, a soaring Osprey can give the location away for potential flats that will hold bait, and in turn, trout. 

There are several different ways to find feeding fish but birds will point the way every time. Nature has a compelling way of working together to where every animal has a way to benefit from others; the Gulf Coast is one of the greatest examples of this. I hope everyone takes advantage of the warmer weather that is coming our way and when you get on the water, be sure to follow the birds.

– Dave Roberts

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