by Capt. Joe Kent
One of the most frequently asked questions from readers is about wade fishing. This form of fishing appeals to a variety of anglers especially those who do not have the use of a boat to enjoy their pastime.
Questions run the gamut; however, most frequently they center on how to get started and where to wade fish around the Galveston Bay Complex. While those questions are often specifically answered in fishing articles, I want to address the overall concept of wade fishing and discuss the pros and cons. For beginners to the this style of fishing, hopefully it will give enough insight for you to make the decision as to whether you want to pursue it.
First, let’s address the benefits. One of the biggest benefits to wade fishing is that you do not have to have the use of a boat to enjoy it. This in itself is the reason well over half of the participants choose to make the investment in time and equipment to enjoy the sport.
Compared to maintaining a boat, it is much less expensive and offers availability to fishing grounds that are not easily accessible by boat. During peak times of the year when boats are running wild over fishing grounds, wade fishing allows you to escape the crowds and fish more remote locations that are out of reach by boat. This especially is true during holiday weekends and during the summer.
Fishing in the water is quite different than fishing on the water or from docks and piers. Battling a fish, while you are face to face with it, offers some incremental enjoyment that netting one into a boat or on land does not. The challenge is greater in that you are in the water with the fish.
One of the attractions that bring many anglers to wading is the ability to get off to yourself and fish secluded waters. Just roaming through the marsh trying to sneak up on a wall-hanger sized fish is a thrill in itself. This can be a much more relaxing style of fishing and the choice is yours as to what pace you fish.
Now that we see many of the benefits of wade fishing, let’s take a look at the negative aspects.
Generally, it is a physically challenging sport in that it requires a certain level of stamina. Selecting less stressful locations, such as hard bottoms versus soft, can control the level of endurance. Except for wading the surf, a lot of energy is required to cover the territory necessary to find fish. Often long walks with your equipment are required to get from the parking area to the water.
Fishing soft, muddy bottoms will multiply the physical stress needed to move around.
While physical endurance is required, that is not the biggest problem. The dangers associated with wade fishing are notable.
Stingrays probably are the number one concern for injury and jellyfish pose a nuisance and can cause enough discomfort to cut a trip short. While sharks generally are not a big problem in the shallow waters, the situation is different in the surf. Each year surf waders are hit by sharks mistaking their leg for a fish, especially when a stringer of fish is close behind.
Now comes the biggest danger in wade fishing and that is drowning. Burdened with heavy waders and fishing equipment, waders could encounter a deep drop off and in many instances drown.
For those of you who want to continue, here are a few suggestions that will minimize your risk of injury or death.
First and foremost, wade fish in tandem with another angler. This probably is the best preventive measure to avoid drowning and offers a prompt response to your rescue in other emergencies.
Wear protective leggings to avoid or minimize stingray hits. If you are not wearing waders, dress in long pants to eliminate the effects of contact with jellyfish.
While pulling a stringer of fish, whether on an actual stringer or in a donut type fish carrier, use plenty of line to keep the fish a number of yards away.
For those of you who want to proceed with learning to wade fish, we will address the basics here in a future edition of Bay Area Magazine.