COASTAL FOCUS: Upper Mid Coast –

January’s Approach to Winter Trout

T here are many, many different species of saltwater fish that are enjoyed year-round by people all along our Texas coastline, with one of the more desirable and sought-after inshore ones being the speckled trout.

When hunting for these fish, coastal anglers often utilize any of a number of different styles and techniques of fishing. However, one of the preferred methods remains wade fishing, even when temperatures drop as low as they do in January.

Regardless of the choices, anglers should probably always vote for wading a shoreline versus drifting it in a boat. Boats present various and uncontrollable noises, such as hull slap for instance. This lends nothing to your attempt at being stealthy as you try to sneak-up on fish in shallow water.

Granted, anglers can cover a lot of real estate much more quickly when drifting instead of wading, but that’s not always the most important factor when you chase large trout in wintertime. If it’s prime, trophy-class specimens you’re after this month, the ability to be stealthy will become one of your best allies, and there’s no better way than by wading.

Because it’s January, and because it’s generally cold this month, wading anglers should make it a point to locate shorelines and flats that primarily consist of mud and grass, or mud and shell. That is where some of the largest cold-water fish will be found at this time of year.

As air temperature drops, so does water temperature, and the fish tend to get cold (just like people do). This is when wintertime trout anglers need to search for some level of thick mud as part of the bottom structure. The mud is darker in color, and therefore allows it to soak up and retain the heat from the sun much better than sand.

There’s mud everywhere, or so it can seem at times. Some really high-producing areas can be flats close to deeper water that still have grass even though the water has already turned really cold.

Prime examples of such flats are directly adjacent to and alongside the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Matagorda, all the way down to where the ICW opens into San Antonio Bay nearer to the town of Seadrift. Good grassy, muddy flats can also often be found along the bayside shorelines of Matagorda Island where some of the entrances to some of the area’s back lakes actually open into Espiritu Santo Bay and San Antonio Bay.

An even bigger wintertime factor is the wind. Successful wintertime anglers will almost always desire some level of wind over having no wind at all. Why?

Some say it’s because the wind provides higher oxygen levels. Therefore, the fish tend to be more lively and active due to the increase in oxygen just like providing pure oxygen to live bait wells to keep the bait lively and active.

Another point about the wind this month is you should remember to set up as many wading sessions as possible along windward shorelines. This is because the wind blows the baitfish into the shallows along the windward bank.

More often than not, wherever there is bait, trout will not be long to follow, especially when they’re lethargic due to the cold conditions. They’re often extremely hungry. That one meal might have to hold them over for another day, or maybe even longer.

January’s cold weather can also sometimes mean several days of low tides. So, when looking for trout in such conditions, you should focus on working your bait in an extremely slow fashion.

Top water baits are periodically big producers at this time in the year, so give them a try if you’re up for the challenge. Remember, however, to always offer bright colors during periods of brilliant sunlight and clean water. Use darker colors when the sky is overcast or while fishing in dirty water. 

Until next time, Happy New Year to you, and tight lines to all!


Email Chris Martin at bayflatslodge@gmail.com

or visit bayflatslodge.com

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