Guide Lines, by Capt. Chris Martin
January 14, 2013
It has happened again! Another hunting season has now come and is about gone until next November. It has been fun while it’s lasted, but now it’s time for us to center our attention on another type of hunting – the hunt for large speckled trout in wintertime bay waters. And because those waters can turn out to be downright cold in February, I’ll probably be spending just as much time scouting for places to fish as I do actually fishing this month. Why? Well, due to the fact that February can often present us with some really, really cold days means that I’ll need to be looking at the fishing signs differently than I do during the warmer times of the year because it may take me much longer to find exactly what I’m looking for.
It’s cold this month, which means that the bait fish and the trout will both be moving much slower than usual. So when I’m scouting this month, I will make special note of any cold-water area where I happen to witness a single mullet jump. The mullet that jumped is cold, just like the trout, and is not wanting to move much (if at all) if it doesn’t have to. However, chances are great that the mullet jumped because it decided that it had to in order to escape a potentially fatal blow from a predator that just ambushed it. And chances are also good that whatever predator fish lunged at the mullet is still in the general area, so I’ll always consider anchoring the boat and giving the area a good once-over with some very slow moving top water baits and suspending plastics. At this point, it is sometimes a game between me and the fish to see who can outlast the other, so learn to go into this situation with an ample amount of patience about you, or you’ll set yourself up for failure every time.
Another consideration when scouting during the cold months is the condition, or color, of the water. In warmer months we all tend to look for that perfect “trout-green” water that everyone seems to boast about in a perfect fishing world. Winter months, however, tend to give clarity to the water that is similar in appearance to that of tap water in some instances. The water can be described as nothing other than beautiful, but can be rather difficult to fool fish in. Because of this, it doesn’t bother me to fish in areas where the water has become discolored by the wind or waves. In such instances in cold water, I look for undulating and muddy shorelines containing even the most modest troughs, as sometimes the slightest difference in the depth of the water can mean a big difference to the comfort of larger wintertime trout. So next time you’re braving the elements to make a day of it, don’t be entirely afraid of setting your sights on off-colored water as one your prime wading targets that day – it’s worked for me more times that I can tell you!
Whenever I’m scouting for a fishing place in cold water conditions, there’s another thing I concentrate on before stopping the boat and dropping anchor, and that’s the day’s weather forecast. If the forecast calls for warming temperatures throughout the day with minimal cloudiness, I’ll often attempt to locate a muddy flat area that’s adjacent to some much deeper water. A lot of times the fish will venture atop the mud in the shallows when the day begins warming and the sun starts to shine. This is when I like presenting some of the larger top water baits. But strikes on top in wintertime can be few and far between, so like I mentioned earlier, be prepared to need a lot of patience and due diligence. On the other hand, if the day’s forecast doesn’t include any mentionable warming whatsoever, then it’s always been my belief that deeper is better, and I’ll most often search for a much deeper mud area to begin my day. I’ll throw plastics with heavier jig heads, as the heavier head sends the bait to the bottom of the water column much faster, and allows the bait to deal with any of the stronger current movement that might be associated with the deeper water.
In closing, we invite everyone to take advantage of our annual savings event, the 2013 Winter Fishing Special, which takes place at Bay Flats Lodge each year during the months of January, February, and March. It’s a time when you and your guests can fish at Bay Flats Lodge on San Antonio Bay and receive our standard fishing package at a tremendously discounted rate. In years past available dates have moved fast, so make it a point to remind yourself to phone today (1-888-677-4868) to inquire, or to book your spot early. Remember to practice CPR, “Catch, Photo, and Release”, whenever possible on trophy Trout and Reds…Guide Chris Martin, Port O’Connor/Seadrift region. www.BayFlatsLodge.com…1-888-677-4868.