Don’t Let Winter Keep You Off the Water

I guess you could call this our annual trophy trout issue even though we have never tabbed it such. Rightfully so, February is viewed by the majority of the diehard wade-fishing crowd as the month when tides, weather, feeding patterns, and other factors align most favorably, contributing to enhance opportunity of landing a monster speck. For as much as coaching and professional advice might further increase the odds of getting your hands on a lifetime specimen our writing team have filled these pages with scores of tips and strategies.

Winter is a season when fish grow very slowly lengthwise, and none of their energy is expended in reproduction. They typically do not travel very widely in their daily search for food, mostly living very close to primary forage sources. Naturally then, February and continuing until spring warmup, they pack on significant weight. Summer trophies are typically measured in inches but this time of year anglers go ape for double-digit fish, no matter their length.

February angling is no cakewalk though, as anglers face blasts of winter weather. Bone chilling air and water temperatures combined with wicked waves are not to be taken lightly. Careful and safe navigation comes to the fore when planning fishing trips and safety planning in gear and clothing becomes equally important. Ever took a dunking on a cold day? Hopefully you never will but warm spare clothing can be an absolute lifesaver. Wearing the PFD is never more important than in winter.

February is also a great month for other inshore species. Sheepshead and black drum are easily targeted and fillets from these guys are at least equal to spotted seatrout, some claim even better, and I agree. We decided to run a sheepshead cover this month to highlight the fact that winter angling is not just trout, trout, and more trout.

I want to include a couple of announcements; the Billy Sandifer Big Shell Beach Cleanup is slated for February 28. This is the twentieth running of this event and its popularity with beach anglers, birders, and other conservation minded outdoors folk continues to grow. Very family-oriented, this event is a great chance to visit the PINS beach and participate in a very worthy endeavor. Learn more at Friends of Padre website.

Another very worthwhile opportunity to practice hands-on conservation coming this month is TPWD's annual Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program. By decree of the Texas legislature the crab fishery is closed each year to allow the lawful removal of lost or abandoned crabbing gear from Texas inshore waters. Any gear remaining can be legally removed for the purpose of habitat enhancement. The dates for this year's event are February 20 through March 1. Learn more by visiting the TPWD website.