South Padre: February 2021

South Padre: February 2021
Nick Villarreal also scored big.

February reminds me of a garden in springtime about to give up the fruits of the gardener’s labors. Please don’t misunderstand; February is by no means a spring month, but through my own green thumb experience I know that spring causes things to sprout and grow. That is precisely what happens in February, big trout seemingly sprout up out of nowhere.  

Tides in the Lower Laguna are currently running very low on average, which means our target species can be found reliably along drop-offs, in deeper depressions on flats, and in muddy-sandy potholes. Redfish are winter-fat and providing exciting tug-of-war battles. While they might not always slam your lure aggressively due to the cooler water temps, believe me when I say their fighting ability is in no way impaired. Work your baits slow near bottom and hang on when you set the hook.

Speaking of running your baits slow and near bottom, I had an interesting experience recently. Wading with customers the other day, everybody was catching fish except one member of the group. Poor guy just couldn’t get bit. Guessing what his problem might be, I switched him from an 1/8-ounce jighead to a heavier 1/4-ounce. Problem solved almost immediately with his bait now running lower in the strike zone!

I am very pleased with our redfish numbers currently, as well as the many areas we are finding them. Our go-to baits continue to be the KWiggler Mansfield Margarita and Turtle Grass Willow Tail Shad, along with the Ball Tail Shad in Plum-Chartreuse.

February is the month big trout enthusiasts wait all year for and already we are beginning to see encouraging numbers of larger fish roaming the grass flats on warm days. Weather conditions play a huge role and will dictate whether they will be on the hunt and actively feeding or hunkered down until a ridge of high pressure begins to moderate behind a passing front. Once you can learn how to pattern these big trout they will tend to stay close to where you find them consistently throughout the winter season. They will move deeper for a few days when the weather turns cold but will return to their usual haunts during each warming period.  

When bait is not visible on the surface, look for swirls in the water and pay careful attention to bird activity to discover areas with feeding activity. Brown pelicans, gulls, and ospreys have been great indicators for me over the years and I have learned to trust them.

I tend not to move around too much when targeting trophy trout. As a matter of fact, I will usually concentrate my efforts in only two to three areas during a full day of fishing. It is definitely a waiting game when going after the big ones, and you need to be patient and work with the odds in your favor as much as possible.

Prime baits to fool trophy trout can range from topwaters when conditions are favorable, to Paul Brown suspending baits. The Barboleto Lele will also be part of our arsenal. Year in and year out, the baits that produce most for us are KWiggler Willow Tails and Ball Tails in the natural Turtle Grass and Mansfield Margarita colors. And, of course, my old standby Plum-Chartreuse.  

Hitting the water at first light is not as critical during winter as other seasons. I like to allow the sun at least an hour and sometimes a bit more to begin warming the water. Remember that the closer you fish to a gulf pass the warmer the water will be. This water temperature thing can be ultra-critical in winter and I have learned that water temperature below 55° will not only slow the bite considerably but also make it nearly non-detectable – even with the most sensitive rods and braided line. Once the water warms to 58° and above, the bite will be easier to detect if you’re paying attention. Now, 66° and warmer water temps will bring much stronger strikes. And, finally, learn to pace yourself and fish patiently. Some of best days happen when we simply hang in there and let the conditions develop naturally.

Our fishing is phenomenal right now and should continue that way throughout the winter. What that means is there are a lot of fish being caught. Please consider keeping only enough for a fresh meal or two. Never gauge fishing success by the number of dead fish you haul to the cleaning table.

Unbelievable Catching - Trout and Redfish - All Day In One Spot: