February is typically one of the colder months of the year along the Texas coast, and is probably one of the times in the year when there’s much less of a swing in temperatures over that of late fall or early spring – it’s simply cold most of the time. This often means fairly common conditions from day to day, which lends itself to anglers being able to experience almost carbon-copy fishing sessions from day to day in, or around, the same spot as the previous day. There area couple reasons – food, and deeper water – as to why one wintertime area will continue to hold fish when other areas won’t, with this month’s key factor being deeper water, or immediate access to it.
Everyone’s heard throughout their years of fishing that trout move and react much more slowly during colder months of the year – they start conserving their energy at the onset of colder weather. Add to that a slower metabolism on winter days, and that makes for a reduction in aggressive feeding habits. It’s during these colder days that you’ll need to slow down on your bait presentation. As you slow your retrieve, the speed of the bait also slows, which results in the bait being worked in the very lowest portion of the water column.
In theory, the trout prefer deeper depths during cold periods because deep water maintains a much more consistent water temperature for a longer period of time. The deeper water doesn’t undergo as much fluctuation in temperature as that of more shallow waters – it takes a longer period of time for deep water to be affected by surface water changes. Coastal anglers who wade fish are typically walking in water that’s between one to four feet deep, it’s important to keep in mind that when we speak of deeper water, we could be referring to a difference in depth as little as only a foot, or as much as four feet. The fish will key on water depths that present the least amount of biological change to them for a prolonged period of time, so you’ll need to experiment when trying to locate them.
Where In The Water Column
If you’re wading in thigh-deep water, check in the lowest part of the water column first by casting a plastic tail bait attached to a lead head jig out into a nearby deeper water. No strikes? Well, for whatever reason, the fish have discovered better, more consistent conditions suspended somewhere between the bay floor and the surface. This could be due to any of a number of things, with one of the more probable reasons being that underwater currents that are just a bit warmer are flowing throughout different levels of the water column at any given time. So, now it’s time to explore the rest of the water column – between the bay floor and the water’s surface. This is the reason subsurface and slow-sinking lures play such a huge role in catching big trout this time of the year. These lure types have become increasingly popular for coastal wintertime fishing, with some of the favorites being the entire Corky lineup, as well as the ever-popular MirrOlure MirrOdine XL plastic baits. When making your selection, remember the importance of picking the lure you have the most confidence in.
When fishing shorelines with these baits, start by slowing your retrieve; allowing the bait to sink a foot below the surface, then practice a slow twitch-twitch-pause cadence. If you’re fishing deep water or reefs, let the bait fall between the middle and lower portion of the water column, and always begin reeling at a slow-to-moderate speed once the bait sinks. It’s good practice to make sudden stops with the lure, allowing it to fall. Once the lure has fallen, start reeling at a slow pace at first – if it feels too comfortable, it’s probably the wrong speed. If you discover grass on your hooks, the lure is sitting too long. Most importantly, if you find yourself casting more frequently, then you’re definitely working your retrieve too fast.
When you receive a strike, pay attention to how the fish hits the lure. In deeper water, you’ll normally get hits on subsurface lures as the lure falls. In shallow water, the fish often hit the lure aggressively just as you begin reeling the lure just after it has fallen. Any of the subsurface or slow-sinking lures mentioned above will allow you to keep the target out in front of the fish for a longer period of time, while at the same time delivering a slower presentation. Good luck, and we hope to see you around the lodge soon!