Happy New Year!

I hear folks complaining of post-holiday depression and cabin fever during January but for the life of me I do not understand why. January is such a fabulous month to be outdoors. Yes, it is frequently chilly but the days genuinely cold enough to preclude having fun in the outdoors are few. Okay I'll spot you the days below 40 with strong north wind not being the best for fishing, but they can be perfect for activities like waterfowl hunting, deer hunting, and boat shows.

Speaking of boat shows, there is no better time to get a deal on a new boat or repowering and upgrading electronics and other accessories on one you have loved for years. Major purchases not required to have a good time these events are also great for meeting up with fishing friends, cruising the show and shopping for deals on tackle and related items. Capping the day at a nice restaurant puts icing on the cake. Heck, pack up the whole family.

Trophy trout enthusiasts wait all year for January. Targeting the second or third day after a strong norther is usually a solid plan. Tides will be generally much lower than normal which concentrates bait and gamefish in deeper guts on the flats and along major channels. Having been way off their feed several days through the passage of the front and the high pressure that lingers a day or so, the warmer and calmer conditions that prevail until the next system arrives can be pure dynamite. Epic is often overused in describing fishing trips but certainly applicable to what frequently happens in January.

Trout are not the only draw in January. Redfish opportunity can also be outstanding. When the northers push nearly all the water from back lakes and marshes, reds have no choice but to vacate those shallow environs. Huge schools of slot- to oversized fish can be found cruising bay shorelines and feeding like wolves on anything they can swallow. I once cleaned a red that had eaten dozens of small shrimp, a blue crab the size of a golf ball, a four-inch hardhead, and a soft plastic–still on a jighead trailing several inches of monofilament. And I caught it on a gold spoon. How's that for hungry?

For days when you simply cannot get outdoors, you might consider spending a few hours at the work bench cleaning and lubing reels, or tackling the mess that forever accumulates in your tackle boxes and boat storage compartments. I sat down one dreary winter day and attacked the bucket of topwaters and Corkys that sits in the corner of the garage where I hang my waders. I tend to procrastinate, which means the bucket had become almost full, a few lures at a time. A quick soak in toilet cleaner and a set of split rings and hooks had them shining like diamonds. Probably saved myself several hundred dollars at the tackle store.

However you decide to pass the time this month, make it a point to get your family involved. Visiting Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson would be an excellent outing on a cold Saturday. It's healthier than video games and kids really get a kick out of it.