I sure hope y'all are enjoying some of these first cool fronts as much as I am. Every year, it's such a great relief to walk outside and feel the need for a light jacket. Since the opening of dove season, I have enjoyed multiple bird hunts, fly fishing on the Yellowstone and Snake Rivers, ATVed the Grand Tetons, arrowed a management buck, caught some nice trout here at home, and getting ready to head to west Texas for blue quail. Life is good; fall makes it even "gooder."
Recent fronts have been setting the stage for the kickoff of the winter trophy trout season. November through May is what I consider trophy season. The best month to catch a trophy fluctuates every year, and honestly, there is no way of knowing which winter/spring month will produce the most trophy fish. It has happened for me in every month mentioned.
What I know for certain though, November is the earliest it will begin with any real consistency. One of the largest trout I caught last season (31.25-inches and 9-pounds) was just after Thanksgiving on a shallow flat that was warming after a good cold snap. I have countless stories and memories of Novembers past when a similar scenario came together to put all that we love about winter trophy trout season in motion.
In Baffin and the Upper Laguna, trout will be gorging on mullet migrating out of the bay towards the gulf. Just like a hibernating bear, they are putting on as much fat as they can to help get them through the winter, and this obsessive feeding nature works out well for us as anglers. Not only will they be unusually fat during this time, they will also start becoming very aggressive, which presents lots of opportunity for us to catch them on large plugs – Fat Boys and He Dogs by MirrOlure.
Without a doubt my favorite days to fish will be the warming trends following cold fronts. In fact, it is safe to say that pattern holds true for me throughout the winter as trout will naturally migrate to those shallow waters to warm up and feed throughout the season. The one downside to warm-up days is that there is a better than average chance you will be dealing with high barometric pressure…but at least the trout will be where we expect them to be. Finding them is never the issue on my boat, getting them to eat on high pressure days is a far greater challenge more often than not.
Pre-front conditions can also be very good during the upcoming season. Unlike post-front and high pressure, the pre-front period is usually associated with low barometric pressure and this can send them into a heavy feed, right through the first hour of the north winds just blasting through us. I could fill every page in this magazine with experiences I've had when the front first hits and the bite goes off for the first hour of it. That feed period is very real!
Safety Reminder: If you happen to find yourself fishing in rapidly developing pre-front weather conditions and preparing to wade away from your boat, make damn sure your boat is secure by burying your Power-Pole deeply into the bottom and also setting out a Danforth or similar traditional type of anchor. Don't ask me how I know this.
In some shape or form y'all are going to have to let me vent every month in my articles about the importance of releasing fish. Any who have been reading my stuff over the years or perhaps know me personally are very much aware that I have an extreme passion for the quality of these bays and the gamefish we pursue. Saying that, the freeze of February 2021 has set us way back. As sportsmen, beneficiaries of God's handiwork and stewards of the bay, we must all do our part to spread the message of catch and release during these critical stages of rebound.
Lead by example, practice catch and release, and educate others to the importance of taking and maintaining that stance for the future. We are in a very critical time regarding the fishery and we MUST police ourselves; not waiting for TPWD to tell us what is right and wrong. We are out here every day and we know what needs to be done. Check the egos at the door and lets all put the resource first.
Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey
Great day on the Upper Laguna Madre