THE ARRIVAL OF WINTER does not mean the end of quality fishing on the Texas Coast.
On the contrary, some of the best action of the year is during the winter. The key is adjusting to new patterns and enhanced opportunities to catch species more abundant and willing to bite when temperatures cool.
These six strategies along with their accompanying gear picks can lead you to impressive catches and productive time on the water even in winter. You also might just find some great Christmas gift options with our gear suggestions.
Some of the best fishing during winter is on the jetty systems along the coast. From Sabine to Port Isabel, the Texas Coast has impressive jetty systems that are essentially fish super highways from the Gulf to the bays.
Beginning in November, sheepshead fishing at the jetties keeps getting better into early spring as these fish gather in large numbers around the rocks.
A killer strategy is using a medium-heavy spinning rod, rigged with 20-pound braided line and a ¼-ounce jighead with a piece of dead shrimp.
A great jighead for this application is the Got-Cha Flat Back Live Eye Jighead available at Calcuttaoutdoors.com. These round jig heads are designed with a flat back for a snug fit which helps keep the shrimp on the hook better. Anyone who has fished for sheepshead much, knows they are master bait thieves. In addition, the eye design gives it realism.
When you feel a small tip, count to two and set the hook. There’s a good chance a sheepshead’s on the other end. Many times, they bite lightly, but when they’re hooked, they fight with ferocity.
This might seem a bit unusual, but it can get the job done. If you’re into catching sand trout and get tired of messing with dead shrimp and cut bait, try the Shrimp Fly Rig combo from Danielson.
Rig this below a ¼-ounce split shot, then vertical fish at deep spots in the channel loaded with sandies. Jig it up and down slowly. Don’t be surprised if you come up with doubles.
As winter wears on, anglers can find action on highly overlooked oyster reefs that have nearby ship channel access. Trout like to dwell in deeper waters and move onto shallow reefs and mud flats to feed during warm afternoons.
Drifting a sand eel imitation is a great way to get bitten. The Super-Scented Sand Worm from Sea Striker, not only has the right shape and action, but it also has a scent that helps make fish pursue and hold on.
Rig it on an ⅓-ounce jighead, throw it out behind the boat and drift slowly. It’s not rocket science, but it works.
If you have the time, catching the last hour or so of an incoming tide and the first couple of hours of the outgoing tide on a seawall inlet or slough yield big results for redfish.
And the great thing is many of these spots are available to landbound anglers.
A live finger mullet or croaker on a Carolina rig is the optimal bait choice. Either one of those choices works great. The key here is waiting it out, which is why a Deluxe Surf and Beach Cart from Calcutta Outdoors is a great choice. You can bring out everything, your bait, drinks, net, and rods in one trip.
That saves time and doesn’t make you skimp on gear because you didn’t want to take another trip to the truck.
Big black drums are present on the coast year-round, but during winter they begin to be more prevalent inshore and can be found in roadside canals, ship channel shorelines, and other easily accessible locations.
Their favorite food is blue crab.
Why not do a black drum cast and blast combo? Go crabbing and use some of the crabs you catch as bait.
Calcuttaoutdoors.com offers an easy solution with pre-rigged crab throw-lines and a great two-ring crab net. This is also a great opportunity to take your kids with you as crabbing provides action.
Pop the shell off of a crab, hook it through the back paddle joint, throw it out on a Carolina rig, and wait. If a big drum swims by, it will take notice and the fight is on.
Every time it seems as if silver spoons are out of fashion for speckled trout fishing, until someone catches a monster on one.
Trout action under the birds will be good until at least mid-December depending on the temperatures on much of the coast.
Try chucking a ¼-ounce nickel-plated casting spoon from Sea Striker past the schools you see feeding under the birds. Work quickly toward the school.
Often, the biggest trout will be on the bottom, and that’s where this spoon can help you. It cuts through the little guys up top and puts you closer to where the bigger ones roam.
If a fast retrieve doesn’t get it, slow down to a crawl, but don’t be surprised if a big red hits. They don’t mind being spoon-fed either.
All of the products listed in this story are available at Calcuttaoutdoors.com They have numerous brands and hundreds of products ranging from surf fishing to billfishing appropriate.
Check out the site and get rigged up for awesome winter fishing. Perhaps you can pick up some Christmas gifts for the fishermen in your life.
—story by TF&G STAFF