In the past couple of weeks there has been a record crappie caught at Lake Fork, a probable state record channel catfish, a 37.54-pounder also caught at Fork, and a giant largemouth caught by a 13-year-old at Lake Austin. Along the coast, trout fishermen are having some of the best fishing in years, and the big numbers of smaller fish being caught suggest the good times may continue, and also dove season reopens.
Dove hunters are few at this time of the year, but for those that find the birds, it can be very rewarding. Plus, hunting them can be more fun when you don’t have to endure the searing temperatures of early September. The late season runs through January 1, 2016 in the North and Central zones, until January 22 in the South Zone and until January 18 in the Special White-winged Dove Area.
On the trout fishing along the coast, Capt. Trey Prye (Caney Creek Outfitters) reports some good catches. He stays strictly in East Matagorda Bay because the bigger trout will be there. “I have a clientele that are solely after that big trout.” His biggest trout in cold water is 10.06 lbs.
Prye recommends fishing in front of any drains that flush out into the bay. “In the winter the sun heats up those back lakes,” says Prye. “You get an outgoing tide with the warmer water, the trout hang around the tributaries anywhere on the south and north shoreline. Big trout will be ambushing fish coming out of the bayous.”
On winter days when the wind is howling, don’t be afraid to hit the deep water in the intercoastal. The fish will migrate into the deeper water to stay warm. Throw a heavier jig to get down deep. Random shell acts like a fish magnet.
Prye likes to use either a 1/4 to 3/8 oz lead head with a soft plastic. “You just jig it up and down. When you are in 15-20 feet of water, that bait is going to come right back to you, right underneath you. You are just trolling and jigging.”
Redfish are mixed in with the trout. “They (redfish) will definitely hang more so on south shorelines during this time of year. You can pick a few up the north shoreline, but for whatever reason they hang a lot around the drains.
“We are primarily out of the boat wading,” continues Prye. “Definitely the Norton soft plastics will work. Take out the Corkys and topwaters when you get the warm spells.”
His favorite color in the soft plastics is plum, but Chicken-on-a-Chain is a close second. For Corkys, the pearl color with any kind of accented back such as chartreuse, black or a pink. The pearl is the key color.
In the topwater lures, his favorite colors are pink, chrome/blue, chrome/black, pink/gold. “I’m not actually a big fan of pink although I am throwing it this year. I’m like to go outside the norm and use stuff that people don’t catch them on; I’ll throw a different color.”
“I have been a hard core wade fisherman for the last 15 years. I can count on one hand when color has actually mattered. I had an old timer tell me one time when he had what he called a ‘widow maker’ – a gold, orange and black She Dog tied on. I asked him if he liked that color. He just kind of smirked and said, ‘Well it floats.’ When he told me that it made me think color doesn’t matter. When the fish are eating color is not a big issue.”
Historically another Corky color that has really been hot is Tequila Sunrise – orange back/gold sides/chartreuse belly. In a topwater lure he likes a bone/silver color combination.
The retrieve in colder temperatures … you definitely want to slow your retrieve, but more so it’s not so much the retrieve as the walking when you are wading. Don’t hesitate to throw in an area a hundred times if you are looking for that big trout before you start burning down a shoreline.
Fan cast, throw sometimes a few different types of baits and styles before you can find something they are keying on. But when you do, just stay in that area if you want to really target a big trout in the winter.