J anuary is big trout time along the Texas coast, no matter where you may wet a line, and wading is generally the way most of the trophies are caught.
Capt. Nick Mosely says it’s going to require wading either shell or really, really tough mud, emphasis on tough, the kind that you sink down in. “That mud will hold temperature. I believe that the trout bury their bellies in that mud to try to warm up.”
A slow stealthy approach is a must. Mosely drops his trolling motor and eases in trying to make as little noise as possible in the area he is going to fish. If you have a spot you can wade in from shore, take your time walking into the water. Fan cast the area as you move.
“To be successful, you need to have two people or less, in my honest opinion,” added Mosely. “If you get three, four, five people wade fishing, those fish know you’re there. With only two people you can be a little more stealthy, and you don’t disturb the water.”
Look for a shell/soft mud mix in “nooks and crannies,” as Mosely describes it. Any bayou dumping shrimp or bait into the bay after a strong weather passage is like a cafeteria serving line to trout and other fish—so much to choose from.
Generally, it takes all day to get a big trout to bite, but it’s going to be a good one. His biggest trout caught in January is right at eight pounds. “We’ll catch a lot of sixes and sevens,” Mosely said.
When you fish the cold fronts, pre-frontal is usually when you get your best fish feeding activity. After the front the big fish kind of come randomly.
“Last winter was a little bit different” Mosely said. “We never got the cold weather, so the fish never got in their winter pattern. I feel like the fish make a big circle around the bay in my area.”
Of course the best way to pattern fish movement during the winter months is button up and get in the water, or at least listen and watch the fishing reports. If you haven’t started yet, begin keeping log entries of your trips. The accumulated information will start telling interesting stories.
“If you’re wading the reefs,” continues Mosely, “the fish will usually be off the reef in maybe three feet of water. If I’m wading shorelines, coves, and stuff like that, it’s generally going to be between my thigh and shin deep.”
“I’ll usually try to throw stuff that mimics the mullet that’s in the bay, such as size,” Mosely said. “If the bait is a little bit bigger sometimes I’ll throw a broken back Corky, or a Norton Sand Shad. If the bait is a little bit smaller, I’ll throw a Sand Shad Junior or Soft Dine, smaller profile. I love the Super Spook and throw them sometimes right at daylight. It really depends on the scenario and the situation.”
In January the majority of the fish are on a baitfish diet. Mullet and pinfish are pretty much the only thing in the bait system.
“If I have customers who aren’t comfortable throwing a Corky, many times I will put on a Norton Sand Shad with a 1/16 oz. jig head. It’s a little bit bigger bait profile. I fish that paddle tail bait a little bit slower. The fish are little more lethargic. They do just as good on those as I do on a Corky sometimes.
“(Soft plastics) color choices depend on the water and the clouds, sky and stuff like that.” He starts his day with Chicken-on-a-Chain soft plastic color. “If the water is a little bit dirtier I will go with a darker bait. I love a Black Magic!
“For the Corkies, Texas Chicken is powerful. I throw a lot of pink colored baits. I don’t know if a trout can see pink. I don’t know if it’s the shade, not really sure. Sometimes it’s just bait presentation. I don’t know if the color really matters.
“My dad would say the only color you need is white and black, something white, something black. He would throw a lot of pearl stuff. Some of the colors are there to catch fishermen.”
“You learn by being on the water. You have to be out there to have a feel for what those fish are wanting.”
HotSpot: Shamrock Cove
Species: Speckled trout, redfish, flounder
Tips: Wade the flats, but be wary of the stingrays that frequent these shallows.
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]