Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
3. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fishing Cold Water - Part Ten
On the 12th of September of 1979, the Gulf Coast was hit by hurricane Frederic. The storm
centered on Mobile, Alabama, and did severe damage which included blowing the roof off of
just about every building and home from Pensacola, Florida to Gulfport, Mississippi. My
construction company was retained by the largest owner of housing and shopping centers on
the coast and suddenly we were slammed with major repair work to twenty large apartment
complexes, five shopping centers, a paper plant and other buildings. I went from a few
employees to over three-hundred within a month. I hired anyone that would work, including
several storm chasing, crooked subcontractors from Utah to Miami. That put a kink in my
tournament plans. I needed to be there on the job sites as much as possible.
The last BASS tournament I fished was on Guntersville Lake in July of 1980, and I only fished
it because it was my home lake. I moved to Mobile shortly after the big storm hit the coast. For
the next few months, the only fishing I had time to do was on the Mobile Delta and Gulf Coast.
I had done a lot of saltwater fishing prior to that but always on short trips away from home.
The more I fished the salty stuff, the more I liked it. I found myself more interested in saltwater
fishing than bass fishing and especially the offshore big game fishing.
I was always interested in the television fishing shows, mostly because I personally knew most
of the guys that had a show. Bill Dance, who stopped fishing the tournaments at Guntersville
Lake the same day I did in 1980, was doing well with his shows, but as he put it, couldn't do
both tournaments and TV as well as he would like to. Roland Martin, another friend, was doing
well at TV it seemed. Al Linder, who also fished the early BASS tournaments, was doing great
with his "In Fisherman" TV series. Jimmy Houston, whom I also knew was laughing his way
through his fishing TV shows. There were a few others, including some I didn't know. I
wondered why TV shows wouldn't be successful for saltwater fishing.
At that time, the only saltwater fishing that had been done on the tube was a very few of Curt
Gowdy's ABC "Wide World of Sports" programs, but the series focused far more on other
sports. In late 1980, I started the first ever TV series focused primarily on saltwater
fishing. It first aired in the Mobile-Pensacola market. They tried to force me into taking a
Sunday morning slot and I refused. I knew my mother wouldn't like "fishing during church time"
and neither did it. Fortunately, I had some bargaining power. I purchased the time slot,
refusing to barter with them. I owned the 30 minute time slot including all the commercial time.
The Gulf Coast Angler aired at 12:00 noon on Sundays.
Getting sponsors was tough at first. It should be enough to say that this was during the Jimmy
Carter presidential term. This isn't intended to place all the blame on him but rather to identify
the era. I paid $600.00 a week for the time slot. Post-production at the TV station cost about
the same or more per week for editing time. The actual production cost depended on
how fast I could catch enough fish for a program.
It was rare I fished over a day for a program. Renting very expensive TV cameras, paying
cameramen, travel, etc., cost a bunch. I was able to break even for the first six months and
the program ended up being the highest rated TV show for the time slot in that market. Soon
it was mid-winter and I was having trouble coming up with a new saltwater fishing
program every week. I had already done about 26 programs in the Panhandle area and
without repeating the same type of fishing, I was forced to go South to continue. That
increased the cost even more.
To shorten this story, my ratings the first six months helped out big time. I signed up with a
Tampa/St. Petersburg station (the 7th largest TV market in the US - all of Central Florida) for
a 7:00 PM Sunday night time slot. That's the highest prime time slot there is in TV. It cost
$1200 a week for the air time but I was able to get plenty of sponsors because of the time slot.
For the first time, I was actually clearing a good profit. The show received over a quarter of a
million viewers just in that one market the very first quarter. With those ratings, I was able
to expand to 28 stations within the next year, including all of Florida and more than
half of the TV markets in the United States. Do the math and you will see it also became a
very large financial undertaking. I had to hire people to distribute programs, get sponsors,
collect money, etc. Fishing show programing was normally done on a barter system or either
purchased by and commercial time sold by the station. I started something others in the TV
fishing business hadn't done. I not only started saltwater fishing TV programming, I was host
of the programs, I produced the programs and I owned the programs. After the first year, I had
to change the program name to "Fishing with James Marsh" because I was no longer the Gulf
Coast Angler. I was fishing many other places.
I was doing something else the other guys wasn't doing. I was running the show non-stop,
52 weeks a year. Everyone else was doing 13 shows per year. Every week of the year I had
to catch enough fish to come up with a fishing show to be aired on the 28 stations. I also had
to spend a average of two days inside an editing studio to direct the editing of the show.
When you eliminate bad weather days and travel time, you can begin to see the pressure it
created. Not catching fish was a disaster. I was making very good money but I was working
hard, seven days a week and usually 12 hours a day.
The big variable for saltwater fishing was the weather but wind more than anything else.
Rough seas eliminated many days of the year. Cold water didn't just make it more
difficult to catch saltwater species of fish. Changing water temperatures drastically
changed their location.
Five years and approximately 225 TV shows later, after four years of living in a motor home, I
abruptly quit TV to spend more time with my daughters. My overoptimistic attitude didn't stop
there. Six months later, I started an even larger fishing undertaking but I'll get to that later.
Sorry for the extended background but I wanted to explain the odd change from General
Contracting to hosting and producing TV fishing shows. The last construction project I did was
in the Fall of 1980. Fishing has been the center of my livelihood ever since.
I did a few freshwater fishing shows, but approximately 80 percent of them were saltwater
programs. Some of the freshwater programs were fly fishing shows for bream and bass. I had
a another problem. I couldn't just air Florida fishing programs. Florida was just a part of
the market area. I produced shows from the coast of Texas to the coast of Maine as well as
some foreign countries. I couldn't spend all of the winter months in South Florida and the
Keys. I had to fish different areas and I had to fish cold water quite often. I had to learn how
water temperature affected all the different species of fish. Cold water has less effect on
trout than most of the other species. Trout are cold water species.
After the program became popular, I had a long list of people wanting to be on the show. I got
to fish with and learn from many of the best anglers, captains and mates in the
World. I had the perfect opportunity for saltwater fishing charter boats, marinas, saltwater
boat manufactures, fishing resorts and other related entities to advertise their products and
services where previous opportunities hadn't existed. Foretravel Motor Homes, an excellent
sponsor, was a huge help to me. They not only provided me with a new, very large and
expensive motor home to use, they paid for their commercials to be run in all of the markets.
I begin to learn something new to me that was related to water temperature. I had to follow the
saltwater pelagic and migratory species that move with the changing water temperatures. In
many cases, the changing water temperatures is the cause of the movement of the smaller
fish the larger predator species survive on and is the prime reason they change locations.
Almost everything I did related directly to water temperatures. It was always a prime
consideration wherever I fished and not just during the winter, but throughout the year. Even
offshore bluewater anglers use sea surface temperature charts derived from satellite
technology to help pinpoint tuna and marlin locations. It not only shows the surface water
temperatures, it can pinpoint rip lines (caused by the confluence of water of different
temperatures) that congregate baitfish. Not only the movement of the highly migratory species
such as tuna, marlin, wahoo, sailfish, swordfish, etc., is based on changing water
temperatures; the movement of pelagic species such as tarpon, Spanish and king mackerel,
cobia, striped bass, etc.,is for the most part based on water temperature.
Doing a TV show per week allowed little to no room for failure. The "fishing is slow" thing
didn't exist in my vocabulary then and it doesn't now. The only thing that makes the
fishing slow or bad, it the lack of knowledge and ability of the
I had to learn to adjust to the changing conditions and consistently catch fish. I wasn't always
successful but with very few exceptions, I managed to have a new program every week. The
only times I didn't was the very few times I was very sick. That usually happened because I
was fishing in adverse weather conditions. I re-run shows less than two percent of the time.
There were no vacations and not really any holidays during those years. It was very hard work.
To go through the various species of saltwater fish and explain how water temperature affects
them would require something comparable to series of books. Neither would it relate directly
Tomorrow, I will write the weekly "Fly Fishing Strategy " article for the Smokies. Wednesday, I
will return to the "Fishing Cold Water" series which will be targeted specifically to fly fishing for
Copyright 2011 James Marsh
I'm not trying to write an autobiography. It's my way of explaining how water temperature affects gamefish and
in the end, how it relates to trout. I think it's a greatly misunderstood subject by many, if not most anglers, and
my intent is to try to give those interested a better understanding of the subject.
The number of site visitors that view the daily article page on Sunday is always less than it is
during the week. For that reason, please make sure you read yesterday's article. It contains
some very important points about fishing in cold water you don't won't to miss or forget.