COASTAL FOCUS: Upper Mid Coast

December 25, 2016
December 25, 2016

Cold Water Trout

T he bay options for the  Port O’Connor and Seadrift area include Matagorda Bay, Espiritu Santo Bay, San Antonio Bay, and even Mesquite Bay. Coastal anglers who have fished these bays could probably offer endless suggestions as to how, when, and where to catch big wintertime trout within them.

Over the years, all of these bays have provided cold-water trout action that is comparable to anywhere else along the middle Texas Gulf Coast. With its seemingly countless options for locating leeward shorelines in almost any weather condition, this region presents itself as being a prime destination for anglers searching for career-best catches during the coldest times of the year.

With the numerous back-lake areas throughout this vast area, anglers can practically be guaranteed to be able to find areas that have been out of frontal-passage winds for a day or two.

Look for clear water whenever searching for trout in January, and keep in mind the fact that the larger trout are probably going to be feeding primarily upon baitfish right now. Locating an area with a presence of mullet should help you in your effort to locate trout.

A lot of people, me included, will tell you that if you pull into a spot where the area appears to be devoid of any mullet activity, you should not waste your time anchoring and wading. If the mullet aren’t there, the trout probably won’t be there either. When you find the mullet, your odds at finding the trout multiply significantly.

We talk a lot about the importance of fishing for trout over mud at this time in the year. The mud is capable of absorbing and holding heat from the sun much better than sand, so is favored by the fish during the colder months. However, there’s another structural characteristic I like to experiment with whenever the water temperature drops, and that is what I refer to as “potholes.”

These are bare, open depressions you can generally find amid grassy shorelines and flats. The potholes can contain a bottom comprised of mud or sand, or a mixture of both maybe no more than about five or six feet wide and not much deeper than about two or three feet, surrounded with grass and vegetation on all sides. Most of the large trout are female that love to use the grassy edges of these potholes for camouflage wait to ambush the next unsuspecting baitfish that happens to venture over the pothole. So, if it is big sow trout you are seeking this month, make it a point to try to locate an area containing mullet activity along with a large number of potholes.

The presentation of your bait, more than anything else, is going to be the key ingredient for fish to eat right now. Everything you do must look as natural as you can, so when you are casting your artificial bait to the potholes, it is extra important that try to be “spot-on” whenever possible.

Cast to one of the edges then bounce or skip the jig out into the openness of the hole in a very natural rhythm. I like the tails of my baits to flutter as much as they can, so I like using a sixteenth ounce jig head because the lighter weight allows my bait to settle back to the bottom slower than if I were to use an eighth or quarter ounce head. 

The bait settling back to the bottom slowly means its tail is also allowed to flutter that much longer. I believe this makes for a more overall natural presentation of the bait. This is what I have thrown for many years and is what I have become confident in using. Everyone has their own ways of doing things, so you may wish to practice with different riggings before forming your own opinion as to what works best for you.

The general color of choice during the colder months of the year is “dark.” There are fewer hours of daylight each day during the winter, and the sun shines at minimal angles as compared to the summer months. Darker baits will cast a greater silhouette against the surface of the water as the fish look up at it. This is why I often choose colors like black, brown, root beer, motor oil, plum, and purple when selecting my wintertime offerings.

If I happen to be fishing insome extremely clear water, I’ll also consider using baits that have a bright contrasting color on the tail of the bait in shades of chartreuse, glow, or even white. I have experienced some exceptional catches using plastic mullet-imitations like the Trout Killer, the Killer Flats Minnow, the Texas Red Killer, the Bull Minnow, the Swimming Shad, and the Super Shad just to name a few. 

One last topic to discuss is the simple fact that this is January, and it is cold. Successful coastal anglers will be those who remember that the trout right now are more interested in trying to make it through the cold months than they are in attacking fast-moving baits.

They’ll eat, but they will sometimes appear stubborn in their slow approach to your bait. Additionally, their mouths are often exceptionally soft now, so bring your lure back at slow speed.

This will also help to reduce the number of times you rip your bait right out of their mouth. Make it a point in January to slow your retrieve to what, at times, may feel to you as being a painstakingly slow pace. Those who are willing to spend the time and effort in developing the patience for doing so can often recognize nothing less than truly amazing results.


Contact Capt. Chris Martin at 

[email protected]

or visit


Email Chris Martin at [email protected]

or visit

Return to CONTENTS Page


Comments are closed.