IF YOU HAVE FISHED along the Texas coast in December, you know we can sometimes experience some warm days.
At this point in the year, however, bay waters have already cooled enough to send the shrimp and other small baitfish packing. This means that mullet is practically the only food source left for big wintertime speckled trout.
When the sun comes up on a cold December morning, look for some of the larger trout in shallows situated adjacent to deeper water. Mullet are going to seek the muddy shallows at sunrise because this is where the water is going to warm the fastest following cold nighttime temperatures. The water may only be a foot deep, but this is where you’ll typically find the mullet. Find the mullet, and you’ll typically find the trout!
A few key locations to search for big trout along our section of the coast are any of the mud flats along the ICW between Port O’Connor and San Antonio Bay. Other spots are the flats outside the mouth of the Victoria Barge Canal, and the flats situated outside the entrance to the Army Hole cut out on Matagorda Island.
Pay attention to the muddy flats on the Espiritu Santo Bay side of the Matagorda Ferry Channel cut near Port O’Connor. Also check out the cut farther down the ICW toward San Antonio Bay across from Charlie’s Bait Camp.
Looking for big trout in December in shallow water is going to require either drift fishing or wading. A cautionary note for drifting anglers, however, is that you cannot approach the shallow areas with much speed, whatsoever.
Any boat wake you happen to throw across the water’s surface or up against the shore is going to seal your fate with any big trout that might be in the area. Wading is your best bet, as it provides a stealthy approach. Park the boat a fair distance from your target area and slowly make your way there on foot.
The longer the cast you’re able to make, the better. There are a lot of high-end rod and reel combos on the market today, so look for a rod of your liking in the six and a half to seven foot range.
Bait-casting reels and spinning reels are typically the two reel options for most everyone along the coast, so choose what best meets your needs and preferences. Equip your reel with a 20-pound braided line and a 30-pound fluorocarbon leader. Then you’ll be ready to attack anything.
Big trout get to be big by not getting caught. They are smart, and they spook easily. When searching for big trout in skinny water, use ures that don’t make any noise—no rattles.
Fish the shallows the same way you would fish on a dead-calm day. If you go with topwater baits, any of the floating Corky or Corky Devil models are good choices.
If you happen to be fishing in really clear water, which is often the case in winter, you may prefer throwing some of the brighter colors. If you’re fishing in stained water, muddy water, or under overcast skies, the better bet would be to throw some of the darker colors.
Other lure options are subsurface baits and soft plastic jerk baits in a variety of models such as plastic shrimp tails, sand eels, and bull minnows. A keen subsurface producer that’s hard to beat year round is the MirrOdine suspending twitch-bait, by MirrOlure. A simple twitch, twitch, pause retrieve is all that’s required with these baits to resemble an injured baitfish, which is often quite effective on big wintertime trout, especially in shallow water.
Most anglers have their own theories as to the best times to fish for big December trout. Some swear by the moon phases. They claim that three to five days leading up to and then three to five days following the new and full moons are the absolute best times to be trophy trout fishing.
Others like fishing lower tide stages, claiming the fish are easier to locate because they’re concentrated. There are also those who strictly fish the barometric changes just prior to and three days following a wintertime cold front.
As we’ve discussed, winter’s colder temps often produce very clear water conditions, which makes it more difficult for the trout to ambush their next meal. Under these conditions, the trout will most often be found feeding during periods of very low-light conditions because their prey are unable to see very well when there’s not much light.
This makes night fishing for wintertime trout a very good option, especially in places with very clear water. Bundle up, stay warm, and have fun out there!
Email Chris Martin at [email protected]
or visit bayflatslodge.com