JANUARY’S EVER-CHANGING conditions mean anglers will most often need to look for fish in different spots each day. You might find the bite in the same general area as the day before, but you seldom will be able to locate the fish in the exact same spot as yesterday.
The weeks leading up to January often provide a wide range of water and air temperatures along our mid-coast region. Accompanying these changing weather patterns will be movement of the fish—however faint the pattern may be.
The fish will tend to stay in the same overall locale for a reason, and that reason is food. If bait is in the area, then cold-water trout won’t be far off.
Tide adjustments, and currents influenced by heavier winds often rearrange things a bit over the course of a 24-hour period. So, the baitfish may not be found in the exact same spot from one day to the next. But they probably haven’t moved too far.
Look around before spending precious time venturing off to a different spot in search of a different bite. Even seeing just a single mullet jump justifies close examination of the area before you move on.
Subtle movement of the trout calls for subtle tactics. When wading atop a reef in cold conditions, slowly vary the depth of water in which you’re walking. This allows you to cover the water column completely. It also enables you to work all of the different features of the reef—points, holes, troughs, the crest, etc.
When you wade a tapering shoreline, walk in various depths as you look for the bite. You should also always try to make subtle movements, and .always walk slowly. When you think you’re walking slowly, slow it down some more!
As extreme cold sets in, deep-water places such as the Army Hole, the oilfield cuts off of Saluria Bayou, and the deeper holes located in the First Chain of Islands suddenly become go-to spots. When things get this cold, you might want to try drift-fishing so you can stay on the bite when the fish move out to deeper water as a result of the colder conditions.
Just as important are the days following a cold snap. With each cold spell there’s generally a warming period that follows. It might be beneficial for you to check some of the mud flats just adjacent to deep-water spots during the warming trends. Trout can often be found traveling these areas during high-sunlight periods in their search for warmer water.
Again, keep this one thing in mind when the weather pushes the fish into one particular area. The fish will tend to hold in the same general location as long as a food source is nearby and available.
The only exceptions might be a major weather change such as a pumping 30 to 40+mph north wind, or a dramatic drop in water and air temperatures resultant of an arctic air blast. When this happens, the fish will push down to the deep holes, which are their only protection from such harsh weather conditions.
Because bay waters are exposed to inferior weather this month, you’ll often find stained or muddied water as a result of high winds or rapidly changing tides. When this occurs, one of your preferred lures needs to be one of the plastic baits, either in a tail or a slow-sinker model.
Tail colors such as plum/chartreuse, Roach, Morning Glory, and red/plum rigged on a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce locking-screw jig head are all good choices. Slow-sinkers in dark green, pink, bone, and green/brown are also typically good producers for wintertime trout.
This time of the year often provides rapidly changing weather conditions that can, at times, be very severe. For this reason, safety should always be part of your checklist before leaving the dock for your wintertime fishing trip.
Let someone at home know where you’re going and when you plan to return. Check the weather forecast the night before, and don’t forget to take your cell phone (fully-charged). Carrying an extra set of dry clothes isn’t a bad idea, either.
Have fun out there, and be safe!
Email Chris Martin at [email protected]
or visit bayflatslodge.com