Layer Up and Grab Your waders!

It's time! Coastal anglers from the Sabine-Calcasieu estuaries to the Tip of Texas will be hitting the water in droves this month and much of their fishing effort will be focused on the heaviest speckled trout of the year–some will land the best specimens of their careers.

February's weather patterns and coastal water conditions combine to set the stage for exceptional angling opportunity.

Large speckled trout become available in greatest abundance when frigid weather systems blast our coast and blow the tides out of the bays. Fish that have been basking on shallow flats lazily sucking down juicy mullet are suddenly required to seek shelter in the closest deep water for warmth during the front. It is not uncommon to see water temperatures in shallow areas plummet more than twenty degrees in a few hours. An extreme situation for coldblooded creatures.

This is when the edges of channels adjacent to flats, deeper depressions and natural guts within flats areas, and dredge spoils come into play for anglers seeking wintertime action.

This all sounds pretty easy–all you need to do is anchor the boat on a good-looking drop-off and toss out something for them to eat. Oh, if it were only that simple.

No doubt some fish will be caught this way but rarely will they be the best the spot or area can offer and even rarer that you might luck into more than a few.

Fact of the matter is that it takes more than a bit of work and is as much a hunting pursuit as a fishing endeavor. I often compare it with bowhunting for deer on foot. The greatest successes come to those who plan most carefully and pursue their quarry with greatest intensity.

You need to understand that not all channel edges, spoil banks, depressions and guts are equal by any means. There are ledges, nooks and crannies within each and the best method ever devised for probing them is by wading at snail speed and making dozens of casts to the same small point or piece of structure from an array of presentation angles.

The bottom is usually soft–OK, let's just go ahead and admit that it is muddy–boot-sucking mud to your calves sometimes. And some of the best days can be colder than the proverbial welldigger's backside. But it has rewards!

Jim Wallace's state record Baffin speck of 13-pounds11-ounces ate a Corky on a raw February day in 1996when boats on Texas bays probably numbered fewer than your fingers.

This issue is jammed with as much high-quality wintertime trout content as would fit between the covers, penned by some of Texas' best trout anglers. Read carefully and apply what you find interesting and helpful to your own fishing efforts.

Please consider Catch-Photo-Release, even if you plan to have a trophy mounted. Replica taxidermy has come a long way.

Don't be surprised if the grizzled angler you meet hunkered under the hood of a wading jacket professes to be a magazine editor. It might be true!