Hello and Happy New Year! Winter has finally arrived, even though you cannot always tell by the thermometer. Two of the surest signs are the much shortened hours of daylight and the frequency of frontal systems arriving. Notice I didn’t say cold fronts, not all fronts are equal, and the majority so far this season have been rather mild. They did bring some north wind, all the same.
January is a special month, almost sacred to the hardest of hardcore speckled trout anglers, but you have to pick your days. Being out there in the last few hours before a front arrives can be the stuff of legend. Having said that, though, you can’t let caution fly with the wind. Waiting until storm clouds are billowing and the north wind blows your hat off is both foolhardy and dangerous.
Extra precautions are definitely in order. Weather reports are valuable when planning an outing, but never trust the weatherman’s guess of exactly when a strong front will come ripping across the bay. I learned this the hard way. By the grace of God I somehow made it back to the dock several times and lived to become older and wiser. I’ll never do it again. No fish – not even a ten or twelve pound trout – is worth a man’s life.
Part of being prepared should include an extra set of warm clothing and a slicker suit in your boat’s dry compartment in the event of an unexpected dunking. Hypothermia is a killer.
Wear your PFD. The auto-inflate vest style can be adjusted to fit over practically anything you might be wearing on a cold day. The auto-inflate feature will bring you bobbing to the surface even if you’re out cold when you hit the water.
Mechanical gremlins have a way of showing up at the worst times. Have your boat serviced by a trusted mechanic before winter sets in. Losing power with a front approaching could be life threatening.
File a float plan with a trusted friend. One that is capable of coming to your rescue or at least notifying first responders of your plight.
You hear a lot about fishing pre-front and post front and you can experience great bites during both. My personal favorite is post-front, when the ridge of high pressure has moderated, usually a day and a half to two days following the big blow. Temperatures tend to rise, the water is warming, and fish that haven’t fed the past couple of days really put the feed bag on. Fishing post-front also provides the advantage of generally safer weather.
Don’t Miss January’s Great Fishing