Walk-In Wade Fishing

Walk-In Wade Fishing

Man it's cold outside. This latest norther pulled the temperature down to below freezing and the wind blew what was left of the autumn leaves from the trees and into my yard and boat.

I called my old friend Red Childers and asked if he was going to be ready the next morning. "Ready for what?" he asked in that particular gruff and doubting voice of his.

I told him we were going to make a run over towards Panther Point in San Antonio Bay, and before I could laugh at my own joke he muttered something about whether I had started using drugs. Then he went into a tirade of expletives that proved beyond any shadow of doubt that he too was suffering cabin fever.

Of course he knew I was joking as the wind was howling around 35- to 40 mph and the temperature was somewhere near a processing plant meat locker.

There's something about this time of year, though. The clear water and colder temperatures either make you want to jump into a pair of waders or snuggle into the blankets and sleep late on Saturday morning. Me? I love fishing this time of the year, and for a number of reasons.

Fewer boats on the water means more undisturbed places to fish and that scenario is becoming increasingly tough to find in the warmer months. There are no mosquitoes, no crowds at the bait camps and launch ramps, and a good bite from some vigorous cold-water trout makes me a very happy man. A winter school of husky redfish scouring a shoreline and eating anything you want to throw is another reason to leave a warm bed and jump into your waders.

In a lot of cases you can get your fix pretty easily and a boat really isn't necessary for finding and catching what my son and I call "healthy" winter fish. There are a lot of places where you can drive your truck to the edge of the water and simply wade right into some pretty decent action.

Start with a Texas road map and take a look at the roads running along any of our bays. You should find areas that are accessible by the general public that will allow you to park and wade. A fishing map of the area should show you any reefs or other structures within reach of a wader and don't forget to ask around at the local cafes and bait camps. There is a wealth of information available to you at those places and on the different internet fishing sites as well. One of the handiest tools for this type of reconnaissance is Google Earth with its satellite views of the Texas coastline.

Something drive-up fishermen need to keep in mind is that a lot of the places you'll find are isolated and in some cases a cell phone just won't work there. If you don't have four wheel drive, and even if you do, pay attention to the roads that you may have to drive down to reach the water. I've seen some holes in dirt roads leading to the water that could swallow a jacked-up F-250 Super Crew, so be aware.

Also, this time of the year, the tides can be pushed way out due to the north wind, but tides do eventually turn and the water comes back and that neat little shell or sand bar that allowed you to drive up to the water may be a little wet when you want to return to civilization and blacktop roads. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Keep in mind too, that just as the isolated places give you some solitude and the chance to catch some fish without intrusion from others, there are those who realize this as well and who would love to find your truck unattended. It is a good idea to leave as few valuables; fishing gear, guns, knives, billfolds, binoculars; well, you get the idea. Don't leave your stuff where others can see it if you're going to be out of sight of your vehicle. Locking the doors doesn't help, nor do those expensive tinted windows if someone really wants to get inside.

In any case, it's one of my favorite times of year to be on the water and with a little cold weather preparation it could be yours too. Check your waders for leaks and if there is any doubt that they may not be water tight, you might want to consider getting another pair. The quickest and surest way I ever found to test waders is in a swimming pool. There is nothing worse than stepping into the water and having your waders filling with cold salt water.

A lot of my friends and I wear breathable waders all year long. They are fairly cool in summer and also work well in winter, and they don't bind me like neoprene waders do. The only drawback to breathables compared with the warmer neoprenes is that you have to add layers of moisture wicking underwear and fleece to stay warm. You do not have to layer as much with neoprenes but that is their only real advantage. The choice is yours as to what you want to wear as far as waders go; check out both styles before you buy.

Wear a good knit watch cap or insulated beanie. Ball caps just don't keep your head or ears warm, and while you will not perhaps look as sporty, the main objective is to stay warm and comfortable. Experts say that almost half of body heat loss occurs in the head and neck; a neck gaiter and watch cap will keep you warmer longer. Dress for the elements and let those trying to make fashion statements do the shivering.

Pick up a few pairs of heavy wool socks or the new Under Armour socks that are no thicker than a pair of dress socks, but are said to keep your feet very warm. Both natural wool and the Under Armor socks will keep your feet warm but the natural wool socks will keep your feet warm even if they get wet. That's one of the advantages of this fabric; after all, it was originally designed to keep sheep and goats warm in cold and wet conditions. I have not tested the Under Armor socks to see how they work when wet. If your feet do get wet those wool socks will be appreciated when things go wrong a mile or so from your vehicle.

Pack some dry clothes and keep them in your vehicle when you head out for some walk-in wade fishing. Should you lose your balance, step in a hole and cut your waders on oyster shell, or happen upon some other underwater hazard and turn your waders into a water bag, the last thing you'll want to do is drive home soaking wet. Your vehicle will appreciate it as well.

So have fun, be safe, pack right, dress warm and don't let a little cold weather keep you out of the water this time of year. Find a spot that provides easy access and go catch some fish.

Oh, and one more piece of advice–lay off the morning coffee! Needing to make two or three trips to the shore during a morning wade while your buddies are in a hungry school–well, you'll figure it out.

Be Safe, and may 2016's winter fishing be the best-ever for all of us.