Chasing Coldwater Fish
Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean you have to give-up on fishing. The coastal regions of Texas will still have plenty of speckled-trout, redfish, and even some flounders available this month for those anglers wishing to pursue them. But when the air and water turns chilly, the trout and reds will search for deep-water areas, especially during the overnight and early morning hours. So, depending on just how low the temperatures go, coastal anglers should probably count on having to look for their trout and redfish in deeper locations this month. For anglers of the Texas coastal bend region, such places would include the Colorado River that’s accessible at the town of Matagorda, the Army Hole that’s located behind the protected shores of Matagorda Island at Port O’Connor, the portion of the Intracoastal Waterway that runs between Matagorda and Seadrift, and the Victoria Barge Canal that’s accessible off of San Antonio Bay near Seadrift.
During the cold periods of the month when fishing deep water for trout, a preferred fishing practice for wading anglers is to toss soft plastic lures attached to 1/8oz or 1/4oz Lazer-Lock Jigheads. When it’s really cold outside, the fish will generally become quite sluggish, so working the bait slowly across the bottom with a brief hopping rhythm often does the trick. But if hopping the bait doesn’t attract a strike, try slowly working the bait across the bottom in a steady retrieve as you provide an ever-so-slight twitch of your rod tip every few moments. Both of those methods have produced well in deep pockets of water when throwing dark-colored plastics like shrimp tails, bull minnows, Killer Flats Minnows, Cocahoe Minnows, and Trout Killers.
Not every day in January is cold, however. On those warmer days, anglers can look for trout to move out of the deep holes and onto shallow-water flats. Whenever temperatures hold higher for about a week or so, anglers should try to take advantage of any shallow water flats that happen to be located adjacent to any of the deep water locations. With January’s weather being sometimes very unpredictable, the trout and the reds like to hold in or near such places where they are able to move fairly easily between deep water and shallow water based upon what the weather and the bait is doing at the time. During an extended warming period in January, trout can commonly be taken in water as shallow as a couple of feet because the fish will often move up into the skinny water to feed.
When there’s a combination of warmth, bait fish activity, and water movement, wading anglers can’t go wrong by chunking top water baits like the Top Dog, She Dog, Super Spook and Super Spook Junior, and the Skitter Walk and Skitter Walk Junior. A general practice for using surface-walking baits is that anglers should use bright colors on bright, sunny days in clear water conditions, and should use dark colors on overcast days or in off-colored water conditions. Additionally, the retrieval of these baits should be performed differently for January trout. Preferences vary widely here, but one retrieve which commonly produces is the reel-and-wait routine. This is where you walk-the-dog with the lure for about five cranks on your reel and then simply allow the lure to sit still in the water while you attempt to count to five. Then, repeat the same steps until you have completely retrieved your lure back to where you are standing.
If redfish are what you are searching for in January, it is not necessary to look any farther than the many back lakes and drain areas situated all along Matagorda Island between Espiritu Santo Bay and Mesquite Bay. Strong, falling tides this month will sometimes empty the lakes through drain areas such as small bayous and channels. When this happens, large amounts of water are often funneled through small arteries of the channels and bayous as the back lake area is slowly drained into the adjacent main bay system. Where this water dumps into the vastness of a major bay system is where redfish often tend to stage themselves for purposes of ambushing unsuspecting morsels as bait fish and crustaceans are swept from the back country. Wading anglers who have properly positioned themselves at the time of a falling tide can often benefit tremendously from this particular scenario.
Here’s to hopes of health, happiness and prosperity for you and your family in 2014. Keep grindin!
Contact Capt. Chris Martin at [email protected]