Winter Strategies

Winter Strategies
I hope the Christmas spirit has filled you as it has me. I love this time of year, especially the goodies in the kitchen. I fully expect to gain five pounds for my winter fat layer that I will most certainly need for burning while wading the bog in search of trophy trout the next two months.

When I return from fishing on cold overcast afternoons I build a fire and sit in the living room looking out at all the ducks other waterfowl feeding on the lake. It is the best of times to take a moment and be thankful for family, friends and the many freedoms we have as Americans. I will celebrate my 50th on December 8th. My life is better than half over. It is a reality check for sure, not depressing by any means, well the loss of hair on top and the hair growing out of my ears is weird but my eyes have gotten so bad I can't see that anyway. Fishing still holds a high ranking in my life but it is not the only thing as it once was. I still dig going every day and anticipate the first strike as if it were my first ever but I have matured to realize it's not the most important thing in my life.

With this said, December is a perfect time to take to the water along the middle Texas coast. Fishing is at its peak and the lack of fishing pressure just makes it that much better. In December I start looking for scattered shell with a bit of grass and softer bottoms. Finding the proper bottom structure that is holding bait, any amount of bait, is paramount to success. You probably grow tired of hearing about locating bait, but it is one of the most important things you have to do each time out.

Monitoring surface water temperature and tide and solunar table is also critical. David Rowsey and I have discussed this many times, we believe that fish are influenced more by the moon and water temperature than any other aspect this time of year. You would be surprised how many times I have found a 2-degree difference in water temperature on the same shoreline and this made the difference in finding fish.

Years ago down in Redfish Bay I fished by water temperature almost exclusively. I start just about every fishing seminar by asking how many in the class carry a device for measuring water temperature. This is absolutely critical to discovering winter fishing patterns. My Garmin GPS includes a water temperature gauge that will display on all screens so I can monitor water temperature changes constantly while I'm running.

Back to that scattered shell-grass-soft bottom structure; this has been my key to success the past few seasons. This has been especially true when throwing topwaters and suspending lures. And incidentally, winter is a great time to add the suspending bait to your daily arsenal. The nature of the bottom structure sometimes pushes us toward lures that can be worked above the structure as well as drifted down into it. While we're at it let's dispense with an old wintertime myth. Every year as I chase winter trout I continue to be amazed how cold it can get and we still find an aggressive topwater bite under the right conditions.

I have always been a big fan of the MirrOlure slow-sinkers. These and Paul Brown's Corky are perfect for working the scattered shell and grass-mud bottoms and they have made me a better winter angler over the past three or four seasons. This is due to the design of the baits and also quality rods such as the Waterloos I use. I cannot say enough about how the combination of the two has helped me in my quest to become a better suspending bait fisherman. I know this sounds like a advertisement but the changes using these products have brought to my trophy trout fishing speak for themselves. Simply put, you must have the right gear to reach your full potential.

Since we are on the subject, my personal winter trout equipment includes the 6'6" Waterloo HP Slam Mag, Power Pro 6x20 braided line, 36-inches of 20 pound Suffix clear mono leader, a device for measuring water temperatures throughout the day, everything Simms from top to bottom and a few energy bars and energy drinks. Add these to the time you spend on the water and you have all the ingredients necessary to pull off the big catch.

I hope Christmas brings your family a joyous season. I look forward to the New Year and new things to learn and share from my fishing adventures.

May Your Fishing Always Be Catching
Jay Watkins